by Deirdre Quiery
Northern Ireland, 1972. On the Crumlin Road, Belfast, the violent sectarian Troubles have forced Tom Martin to take drastic measures to protect his family. Across the divide William McManus pursues his own particular bloody code, murdering for a cause. Yet both men have underestimated the power of love and an individual’s belief in right and wrong, a belief that will shake the lives of both families with a greater impact than any bomb blast.
This is a compelling, challenging story of conflict between and within families – driven by religion, belief, loyalty and love. In a world deeply riven by division, how can any individual transcend the seemingly inevitable violence of their very existence?
Deirdre Quiery’s novel is set in 1970s Belfast; a particularly horrific time in the history of the Troubles.
Centred around two families on opposing sides, it features William and Eileen and their two sons Cedric and Peter. William and Cedric run a taxi business which is nothing more than a cover for their real murderous business. Eileen knows nothing and asks no questions. Peter, still in education and hoping to become a doctor, is in danger of being dragged into the family ‘business’.
On the other side is Tom, Lily and Rose, burned out of house and home and Rose now a target for the gunmen.
This is a richly detailed book full of the everyday nuances of people’s lives as they try to continue amidst bloodshed and random violence, not knowing if they will make it round the next corner without being dragged off.
The author does brilliantly well to get inside the mindsets of people with nothing but unswerving belief in warped ideologies that have been passed down through the generations and ruined countless lives. But she also brings to life characters who have not allowed their background to chip away at their humanity, people who value love and forgiveness above violence and hatred and they will always be the winners.
I have two small gripes, one is the almost metaphysical descriptions of practically all the characters finding ‘a moment of silence into which would creep a deep peace’. It began to get a little repetitive.
Also I am a little unsure about the ending, I didn’t feel some of the characters would react the way they did. But that’s just my opinion, others may feel differently.
Anybody who wants to find out more about this period of time in Northern Ireland’s history, this is a worthwhile read and a very well written story.
Many thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publishing for sending me a copy.
Deirdre Quiery has done a brilliant Q&A for my blog if you are interested in reading this click here