A hilarious and charming tale of small-town Ireland that is fun to read. With a fantastic array of characters supporting Ann Devine this is a book in which you will recognize friends and family. With Denis and their four children: Deirdre, Jennifer, Kevin and Rory there is wonderful dialogue and the scenes in the book are just as likely to be in rural Ireland as they are in a suburb of Dublin.
The main character Ann Devine is struggling with empty nest syndrome now that her youngest, Rory has flown, and she finds herself at a loose end. Until, that is, she is put forward for the Kilsudgeon Tidy Towns Committee. Suddenly she is in the spotlight, a role she doesn’t like and needing to adapt to all the modern technology such as Whats App. As her daughter Deirdre says “You don’t use your phone to its full potential. What’s the point in having a smartphone if you’re only texting and ringing and checking Rip.ie”?
Yet all is not neat and tidy in Kilsudgeon. There are strange sightings of people who aren’t local driving 4x4s with a yellow reg, a man bun requesting kefir in the restaurant and a quad bike at a funeral. There’s Patsy Duggan, the local politician, mover and shaker who is forever at her shoulder checking out what she is up to and causing her no end of grief.
Ann works for a local care company that has recently been taken over by a multinational. The corporate jargon spouted by Tracy will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has worked for large companies and it reminds us how meaningless this style of management is. Ann is a good person, she wants to do her job well, treat her clients with respect and just get on with her job. This is one of several serious points made in the book highlighting how as a society we treat not only employees but also the aging population.
Just like any small town in Ireland the story has a wonderful array of brilliant characters. From Gary Cushin who because of his political beliefs is known as Cushin the Russian to Flash Jordan who reports cars speeding past his house. There’s Johnny running the local pub and when he fails to prepare for the Tidy Town’s quiz only to be taken to task by Ann’s daughter Deirdre is a laugh out loud scene. I particularly loved the line “Johnny moves as fast as if it’s two in the morning and the Gardaí are at the door”. And there’s Fr Donegan who benefits in the short term from having the broadband installed on the church spire.
The interaction between the siblings is very funny. The banter is engaging and well-constructed and fun to read. At one point when describing her brother Deirdre says “Kevin is Kevin he can send a thousand Bangladeshis out into fifty degrees of heat, but he couldn’t wipe his nose with Stephanie’s permission”. Before she goes onto to describe Dubai as being “full of culchies who think they’re the Wolf of Wall Street”!
The interactions with her family can stand alone by themselves it would not surprise me if O’Regan decided to adapt the story into a stage play centred around the family.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut novel. A very strong entry into the fiction world for a comedian who already has several books to his name, principally The Book of Irish Mammies. It is a book that all the family can read so pop into your local bookshop and buy your copy today.