"My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn't yet missed a day of letting me down."
I've come to this, Donal Ryan's debut, in a round-a-bout way - back at the start of this year I received a review copy of his second novel The Thing About December which, while grim and immensely sad, immediately made its way to my 'pick of the year' list. Since then I've seen The Spinning Heart appearing here, there and everywhere on book award longlists and picking up awards, so I decided it was time to read it for myself!
The Spinning Heart is a 'slice of life' novel set in a small Irish town, exploring the financial and personal impact of the bursting of the great Irish economic bubble. To add to the general downturn in fortunes, the local get-rich-quick builder has not been bothering himself about paying tax and insurance for his employees and now, perhaps understandably, has done a runner while the town is left disfigured by his abandoned half-built housing development.
Each chapter is narrated by a different person - 21 in all - with each individual voice building towards the whole - a difficult enough task you would think for an experienced writer but this is a debut!
Reflecting life as it does, it runs through all moods and emotions - anger, pain, guilt, shame, love. At times funny, at others depressing, it builds a picture of people crushed by events beyond them, struggling to go on but still somewhere, somehow finding the strength.
I still think The Thing About December has a marginal edge over this, perhaps because I approached it 'blind', but both are amazing books full of insight and impact.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - DoubledayGenre - adult contemporary literary fiction
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