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The Whole of the Moon Kindle Edition
|Length: 141 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Conor Doyle, a late 20ish Irish lad, returns home from London in the mid-1980s for Christmas break to visit his parents. He runs into old friends from school and falls back into a routine of meeting them each night for drinks at the local pub. He soon learns a respectable villager was run off the road by an unknown the car the day before he arrived. As he begins to reconnect with his friends and listen to different stories around town, he learns the identity of the hit-and-run driver. It’s someone he knows, too. Conor struggles with keeping the secret, as well as crossing the line from friend to lover with an old flame. It all comes to a head in a big confrontation when secrets are exposed, and the cops are hot on the tail of the driver.
I read this 124-page novel in two hours on my iPad via Kindle Reader. It’s the first book of a two-book series thus far told in third-person POV with a perspective on Conor Doyle. The opening chapter covers the actual hit-and-run accident from the perspective of the victim, but otherwise the focus follows Conor around. It has a very authentic Irish feel to the story, the language and the setting. Quite a strong and easily-understandable read.
McManus is a strong writer, especially when it comes to immersing readers in the culture of a 1980s Ireland. Between references to cultural phenomena, on-going politics, and the general way in which people speak and interact, readers will be swiftly taken to the village of Ballinastrad in County Sligo. I have a strong affinity to anything UK and this book is an example of why. I found myself thinking about the people and the views for several days after finishing the novel. That’s how you know the author has made his/her positive impact on the reader.
One of the reasons I found this book so enjoyable is the simplicity of the story, which is a bit odd for a guy who normally looks for ingenious or twisty plots. On the outskirts, it’s the impacts of a hit-and-run accident tied together with the discovery of a secret being kept among friends. In McManus’ novel, the beauty of this story comes from the aura or ambiance within the setting. Whether it’s the tone of the conversation, the description of the land, or the way the main character steps through his day, you feel a connection to Conor’s need to experience a break from the normal busyness of life by returning to his hometown.
I traveled with him on his journey re-living the past and falling back in love. I remembered the bonds you build with friends while hanging out at a bar. And I recalled the disappointment of making the right decision even when you know it will hurt many people in the end. The story is real and it will push you to question loyalty versus heart.
I’m really excited to read the second book which was published just last year. It’s in my reading queue and will probably land sometime around April or May. Maybe you should read this first book now and join me later for a buddy-read of the second, Under the Red Winter Sky.
Nothing is quite what it seems however, and Conor soon finds his friendships being tested to the limit. With the Garda (police) maintaining a semi-permanent presence on the streets as they search for the killer driver, Conor eventually finds himself being forced to make some tough decisions. This is a great snapshot of life in a parochial Irish town of the nineteen eighties, where the locals' world is still being slowly dragged into the modern, technological era. The Irish accents are easily discerned through the accurate dialogue, and the slower pace of life, by comparison with London for example, adds a certain charm to the characters who have a warmth and a sense of humour that is so perfectly Irish.
I found myself reading this well into the night as the story inexorably moved towards its conclusion, one I admit I wasn't expecting, but which perhaps leaves the door open for a sequel. An excellent read, and I have no hesitation in awarding The Whole of the Moon five big stars!