March Eason Book Club Choices
Every month here at Eason Book Club, we put together a selection of novels that we believe book clubs around the country will both enjoy and find interesting enough to promote a great discussion. This month’s choices include three superb debuts. We hope you enjoy them.
It’s 1984. Ireland is a divided country, the Parish Priest remains a figure of immense authority and Jim Finnegan is thirteen years old. His world consists of enduring his five sisters, taking break-neck bike-rides with his best friend, and coveting the local girls from afar. After a drunken rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ at a party, Jim captures both the attention of the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue and the unwanted desires of the devious Father Luke O’Culigeen. Between dealing with his growing love for Saidhbh and the abuse he receives at the hands of O’Culigeen, Jim’s life starts to unravel. He and Saidhbh take a ferry trip to London, with dark and difficult repercussions, forcing Jim to look for the solution to all his problems in some very unusual places. The Fields is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary character, and an outstanding debut from Dublin author Kevin Maher.
Staying in the Eighties and this time it’s the spring of 1987 in the small town of Riverside, Nova Scotia. With only three months of high school to go, Stephen Shulevitz has just realised he’s fallen in love – with exactly the wrong person. Welcome to the end of the world. As Stephen struggles to deal with his overly dependent mother, his distant, pot-smoking father, and his dysfunctional best friends, he must decide between love and childhood friendship; between the person he is and the person he can be. Janet E. Cameron’s debut novel is a bittersweet story of growing up and of one young man finding happiness on his own terms.
Three years after her brilliant, Costa Award-winning novel, The Hand That First Held Mine, Maggie O’Farrell is back with the story of an Irish family in crisis during the legendary heat wave of London, 1976. Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper but he never comes back. The search for her husband brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share. This is another highly accomplished novel from O’Farrell, who knows exactly how to write a complex family drama.
In his beloved town of Holt, Colorado, Dad Lewis is dying. As old friends pass in and out of his front door to say goodbye, Dad’s wife and daughter try to make his final days as comfortable as possible, tainted though they are by the heart-break of an absent son. Next door, a little girl moves in with her grandmother, her innocence and youth providing promise and hope to all those around her. Down town, another new arrival, the Reverend Rob Lyle, attempts to mend strained relationships of his own, as he faces up to his latest congregation. Set in a landscape as vivid and powerful as those of Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx, Benediction is a devastating yet affirming read that explores the pain, the compassion and above all the humanity of ordinary people. A stunning novel by Kent Haruf.
The Panama hotel in Seattle has been boarded up for years but when the new owner makes a startling discovery in the basement, an intrigued crowd gathers outside to view the personal belongings, which were stored away by Japanese families sent to internment camps during WWII. In the crowd is Henry Lee who, upon seeing one of the items, is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, there lies a link to the Okabe family and the girl he lost his young heart to so many years ago. This captivating debut by Jamie Ford comes highly recommended by Eason Book Club.