TITLE: THINGS WE NEVER SAY
AUTHOR: SHEILA O’FLANAGAN
Details: Received from Headline Review
Abbey Anderson’s life in San Francisco appears to be running smoothly, if not completely to her satisfaction, when everything gets turned upside down. It starts with her boyfriend walking out of her life. It is bad enough that he didn’t tell her he was leaving but left her a post-it note on the fridge instead. Discovering that he also failed to pay their rent, even though she’d given him her share, and that she is now to be evicted as well as expected to pay the full amount, means that not only is her heart broken, she is also in serious financial trouble as well as homeless.
Then Abbey is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan and discovers that everything she thought she knew about herself, her mother and her heritage has been wrong. A trip to Dublin brings her face to face with a grandfather she never knew she had who also dies shortly after welcoming her to his home. Her first meeting with her newly discovered family couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. And things only get worse when her grandfather’s testament turns out to hold provisions that thoroughly shock all concerned.
Next thing Abbey knows she finds herself in the middle of a legal battle she wasn’t looking for and facing difficult decisions; decisions that won’t just affect her life but that of everybody around her too.
But maybe this upheaval is just what Abbey needed to get the right perspective on her own life.
This is one well written and very easy to read book. In fact, I would say it is probably the perfect book to spend a few warm summer days with. Having said that, I wasn’t completely charmed by it. While the story is interesting and layered, it also seemed a bit too long to me. I can’t help feeling that this book wouldn’t have lost its power if it had been about 100 pages shorter. The characters in this story are another thing I’m a bit ambivalent about. Some of them, like Abbey, were well rounded and experienced real development over the course of the story. That can’t be said for all of them though. Especially some of the Irish characters started off horrid and childish and stayed that way. And I wouldn’t have minded that, except that the bad behaviour appeared to get rewarded in the end.
On the other hand, I did like the way Irish history, and the Magdalene Laundries in particular, were used in this story and I loved Abbey and her mother. And while some of the Irish characters seemed to be irredeemable, others had managed to surprise me in a very pleasant way by the time I finished the story. And I have to admit that Sheila O’Flanagan writes a very good story. Despite my reservations I did find myself compelled to keep on reading. The words drove me forwards and the story had me questioning how the author would manage to bring the conflict she had created to a satisfying conclusion. I have to applaud her for doing exactly that and in a way that was both fairytale like and realistic.
Overall this was a light, interesting and very enjoyable read. In fact I would say it was “grand”.