Set in Connemara, Ireland, this beautifully written novella by Rosemary Johnston is a tale of family, heartbreak and an exploration of the relationship between people and language. It is a vivid book where the authors love of the written word shines through and leaves the reader satisfied.
After the deaths of her parents, Kate returns to Ireland with her daughter Lavinia to clear out the old family farm, a place which holds many dark memories for her of a childhood in which she had a close bond with her father, particularly over language, but a difficult relationship with her mother. Her mother was a local who loved the land and the area whilst her father had met her on a visit and resented the idea of a quiet life in a small village over time.
Whilst there she bumps into an old flame, Brian, who has spent his whole life in the village but had his own demons to face as a result of a childhood tragedy in the family which he never recovered from and nobody apart from his knows the true details of. Brian and Kate reminisce about their younger days over alcohol and a mutual love of music, one of several ways in which Kate demonstrates her passion for language.
As the book progresses we learn about Kates love and understanding of language and how she fears that her daughter may not have the same relationship with it due to her being more passionate about things such as fashion and technology. We also see flashes of Kates mother and fathers relationship echoed in that of her daughters encounter with a young man from the village called Enda.
This book is completely unlike anything I would usually read however I found it fascinating and exceptionally well written. It had an undertone of melancholy throughout and I genuinely felt for the characters, especially Brian and Kate. More than anything it was truly thought provoking about the power of words, their origins and meaning and how important they are in every aspect of life.
Rosemary Johnston grew up Belfast and now lives with her family in North Yorkshire. She has written for adults and children and her plays have been produced at the Gateway Theatre in Chester. She has also completed her debut novel “ The Children of Angels’ Eyrie”
Published by Story Machine, due to be released on July 1st 2021.