Published By: Coronet
Released On: 29/09/2022
Carol is a divorced teacher living in a small town in Ireland, her only son now grown. A second chance at love brings her unexpected connection and belonging. The new relationship sparks local speculation: what does a woman like her see in a man like that? What happened to his wife who abandoned them all those years ago? But the gossip only serves to bring the couple closer.
When Declan becomes ill, things start to fall apart. His children are untrusting and cruel, and Carol is forced to leave their beloved home with its worn oak floors and elegant features and move back in with her parents.
Carol’s mother is determined to get to the bottom of things, she won’t see her daughter suffer in this way. It seems there are secrets in Declan’s past, strange rumours that were never confronted and suddenly the house they shared takes on a more sinister significance.
In his tense and darkly comic new novel Norton casts a light on the relationship between mothers and daughters, and truth and self-preservation with unnerving effect.
I’ve always been wary of celebrity authors as I wonder, quite negatively I admit, whether they actually deserve their book deal. What I like is that Graham Norton himself has admitted that he doesn’t think he would have got a book deal if he hadn’t been Graham Norton. But he has more than proved why he deserves one.
I have read his four novels and one short story now and they are just getting better and better. I didn’t think he could top his book “Home Stretch” but this has done just that.
His ability to create beautifully flawed characters is perfect. He captures humanity at its best and worse. He captures human vulnerability and loneliness and passions and flaws. It’s difficult to explain the grasp he has on character creation without it sounding corny but he is that good.
His books, whilst for me they are down to humanity and character at its heart, they do have interesting, exciting and entertaining plots. They may not be 100% thrillers right from the off, they’re more subtle than that. They’re engaging and emotionally draining, but in the best possible way.
This isn’t just a book about family, relationships, about fractures, about love and loss. It is really packed with storyline and throws an absolute curve ball half way through that made me have to stop reading and close the cover, just to give myself some processing time.
I like Carol as a main character. She wasn’t too forceful or too naive, she was pitched perfectly and my heart went out to her straight away. Her parents, Dave and Moira…I wasn’t sure about them. Moira was too pressing and Dave a bit too laid back, a bit too in the background. That’s not a comment on the writing of the characters, if anything it’s actually a positive that he’s managed to create these conflicting characters. Killian made me uncomfortable, he was such a prickly character and I didn’t think him and Colin were suited to each other at all. Sally took me a while to land upon. She changes throughout the book (no spoilers) and becomes a more layered character.
I love that he sets his books in Ireland. You can tell how much the country means to him, even though he’s been in England for a long time. There’s a familiarity and a respectfulness that you only get when talking about something, someone or somewhere you love. He admits in the acknowledgements that the setting is fictional but it sounds so real. I’ve only been to Ireland (the Republic of Ireland) once, many years ago, so I won’t try and make out that I’m that knowledgeable of the country, but the way Graham writes about his homeland is so vivid that it feels like you belong there.
It’s a little thing, but the chapters are short. I’ve said it before how much I dislike longwinded chapters, and these hit the right note. A little thing but it does make the reading of it a more pleasant experience.
It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, in a good way, and I was already expecting it to be fabulous. It takes a dark turn and it’s all you can do to keep up. It’s simply fantastic. Definitely his best one yet.