It is very difficult to find fault with a book like this. The writing is beautiful, being elegant, restrained, sparse and poetic all at once. In fact Colm Toibin says more in one of his perfectly formed precise sentences, than most other authors can say in whole paragraphs.
This is the story of a family that has grown apart over the years, and that is reluctantly brought back together again by a single event. Is not a new premise for a novel, but in Colm’s writing a fresh light is shone on it and the situation is brought to life again, warts and all.
The breakdown in the family relationships is one that most people could relate to, no seismic event occurred, just incidents small and large, which culminated and grew over time, leading to a family being distant, resentful and uncommunicative. The rebuilding of the family relationships, some items being patched up, others being papered over or ignored is moving and realistic and at times painful to read, even if on occasions I wanted to tell them to “get on with it”.
In parallel with the main narrative the evocation of the Irish landscape is terrific, and brings to life the countryside, the sea and the climate, and gives a great background and setting for the story.
A wonderfully written novel, which I am sure I will be revisiting and discovering more of in future reads.