Friday, March 28, 2014

A Review of "O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare"

On the surface "O Come Ye Back to Ireland:  Our First Year in County Clare" is a book about a married couple moving from New York City to a small farm in the west of Ireland. But on a deeper level it's about the changes in relationships that result from a life changing decision.

At first, the differences in the new place swell in importance. The driving on the "wrong" side of the road. The accents and local expressions.

Then the wetness, the unrelenting wetness slowly drives them crazy.

Slowly, the initial shyness and subsequent openness of their new Irish friends begins to reward their patience.

Still, the missed conveniences and special worlds in New York nag Christine and Niall. The lost excitement of densely populated New York gnaws at them. The variety and ease of food, in the metropolitan center they used to live in, is sorely missed.

Some images of Ireland, formed before they crossed the Atlantic, might not materialize.

Will Niall bond with the land? Could it start with the backbreaking work of cutting, drying, and collecting turf to burn through the long dark winter? Even with expert help, the task appears hopeless to achieve. 

Will Christine always be grinding out the existence that rural life demands? Can she catch up and get ahead enough to produce art strongly connected to the land and its people?

All these quandaries are told in the organic weave of unflinchingly truthful stories.  

Stories are the root core of memoir, but the stories in this book relate the surprises, the connections, the struggles, the disappointments, and the breakthroughs that are as stirring as any great fiction.

If you have an interest in the real Ireland, not just the tourist attractions, you will enjoy this book.

If you may have little or no interest in Ireland, think on this - from the lessons of people of different cultures relating, experiencing the lows and highs of emotion, and finding grace in the face of vast change, you will enjoy this book.

"O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare" Paperback,
 233 pages, a memoir by Niall Williams, Christine Breen
Look for it at your local used or new book store! My store for new books in the USA is Market Block Books.
Other reviews? Goodreads

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