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Premonition: A Story of Ireland Paperback – February 25, 2016
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Some of his Irish expressions I was able to decipher and found charming. He says of someone who's impressed with wealth and social status that "her knee rises" (i.e. she curtsies) when she encounters those she considers above her on the food chain. A man who's had too much to drink (not an unknown situation among the Irish) is said to be "lifting his feet too high." I never did figure out "he digs with the right foot and everything about him is green...." WTH? But it was the Dublin butcher waving his drisheen at the ladies in the street outside his shop that really took me aback. [Hint: it wasn't what I thought.]
The author was born into a middle class family near Dublin in 1941, so he experienced both the poverty of Ireland during the years when she was the red-headed stepchild of Europe and the heady economic boom of the "Celtic Tiger" starting in the 1970's. It's worth noting that he was the second-youngest in a large family and (as such) he enjoyed a much more prosperous and privileged childhood than his older siblings. It's also worth noting that his brothers were 8 and 16 years older than he. In other words, he was raised as the only son in a family of sisters. It shows.
He became a vet and specialized in horses. He worked both in England and in Ireland during the time when Irish horse breeding was coming into its own. I'm not interested in horses and horse racing, but even I found his stories of the industry fascinating, as I did his stories of his childhood and the relatives who made it so colorful. They were bright people and hard-working, but their lives were harsh due to lack of economic opportunity. And then there was the influence of the Catholic Church, of which the author is not a fan. He paints a picture of an Ireland finally freed from the hated British but still imprisoned by an intense, fearful, rigid society. This is the story as he sees it and every reader will agree or disagree with his conclusions.
You'll also have to make up your own mind about his marital problems. His story is that he was tricked into marriage with a conniving, manipulative woman who conspired with his family against his best interests. She was pregnant when he married her and their marriage produced four sons in 14 years. He claims that he was forced to marry and to stay married because of the perverted ideas promoted by the Catholic Church and accepted without question by his family. And yet his siblings seem to have married their chosen partners and found happiness in marriage. Eventually, he divorced his wife to marry a younger woman and start another family. The divorce was bitter (as he tells it) because of his first wife's feminist lawyer. It's ironic that he's been caused so much trouble by the unlikely alliance of Catholicism and feminism, but he doesn't seem to appreciate the humor of the situation.
It's an entertaining book. He calls himself a beginner at the writing game, but he's written books on horse care and he knows his way around a keyboard. He's a lively story-teller and has some good material to work with. I finished with a great thankfulness for my stolid English/Scottish heritage and it's dearth of drama queens. It's fun to experience "the fire" in his family tree, but I wouldn't want to get close enough to be singed.
No disclosure needed. The author graciously offered me a free copy, but I bought my own. Well worth the modest price, too.
In his book, Peter Gray gives us readers a peek into his history, from his young years to his adulthood, telling tales about his most interesting experiences, skillfully narrated and sprinkled with jokes here and there to make it even more fun. I found it delightful to get to know some of the people he met throughout his life and read about all sorts of situations he has lived.
It was nice to meet you, Peter!
Peter feels forced into a marriage he doesn’t want, but realizes he must be responsible for his actions. As a young married man he starts his own veterinarian clinic and finds his niche is for horses. The more successful he becomes as a vet the more miserable he feels in his bonds of marriage. After finding the woman he loves he decides no matter the fight he is going to have his marriage annulled. His bitter wife fights to her own hurt.
As with all biographies you live the story through the author. It is sad to see Da and Molly pass on. Plus all the drama large families have. At the end Peter seems to have found that putting his knowledge on paper as a fulfilling career.
The way Mr. Gray weaves his family's history throughout the book makes the whole of the story even more interesting. I learned things about Ireland I never knew. The meat of the story is Mr. Gray sharing his memories kind of tongue-in-cheek, but still making it a powerful story of his drive to find and do better in his chosen field. I found it quite amazing what Mr. Gray did with his life and the women or mainly woman, who took advantage of his tender nature. At times I just wanted to reach through the book and grab him and say, 'wake up man, can't you see what she is doing to you?'
I recommend "Premonition" highly. It is one of the better books out there today and you are learning a little more history as you go along.