Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan

 In 1973, Moll Gladney runs away from her home in rural Ireland, leaving her distraught parents, Paddy and Kit, with their lives turned upside down, terrified of what may have become of their daughter, attempting to continue with their daily routines while fending off both the sympathy and inquisitiveness of their neighbours.
Time passes, as it's bound to, with no word from Moll, till five years later she returns, turning up out of the blue one day, followed shortly afterwards by her husband, Alexander, and baby son, and life for the Gladneys takes another surprising turn.

 Strange Flowers is a story of family, loss, and redemption, of three generations bound together by love, but torn apart by secrets. It takes the characters and readers from the quiet slow life of rural Tipperary, to hectic, bustling London, following the characters closely as their stories play out, though retaining some secrets till the end. Life in the Gladney's small close-knit community may seem idyllic, but there are drawbacks. It's a place where it's hard to keep a secret, where everyone must conform to what's expected, and anything or anyone out of the ordinary is looked upon with suspicion. London by comparison seems an anonymous city where you could perhaps be your true self, but it's an impossible place for Moll and Alexander to raise their son.

I've loved Ryan's writing since I first read The Thing About December, and Strange Flowers is another utterly stunning book. As always, his storytelling is beautiful and lyrical, enveloping the reader with the lilt and cadence of his native Tipperary, occasionally shocking them with abrupt outbursts of violence, but always full of compassion and warmth.               

.Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Doubleday
Genre - adult fiction

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