Thursday, March 27, 2008
28. Civil & Strange
By Clair Ni Aonghusa
Rated 4 Stars
I googled for the pronunciation of Clair Ni Aongusha and it seems to be the Gaelic version of McGinnes. Go figure!
The library made a mistake and included this book in the last batch Shaun picked up at the library for me. I would have never requested it on my own. The Book God who seems to know me better than I know myself apparently thought I would like it. And so I did. It's a very Maeve Binchey kind of book. Slightly past Chick Lit and just barely over into Literature.
Library Review: "This richly detailed and deceptively simple American debut centers on Ellen Hughes, a 38-year-old teacher from Dublin who leaves her unraveling marriage to a callow PR man to live in the village where she spent childhood summers with her cousins. Ellen buys and renovates the cousins' crumbling homestead, all the while trying to exorcise the demons of her old life and gain purchase in her new one. Aonghusa stocks the novel with the usual suspects: a charismatic young contractor; a crusty but charming mentor (in this case, Ellen's uncle, Matt); a wise, older woman (Beatrice, who lost one of her sons to suicide) and an insecure but plucky heroine. This is not to say that Aonghusa's work (as opposed to her novel's structure) is riddled with convention. Where a less honest writer might whisk past the unhappiness of uprooting oneself to get to the juicy stuff, there are moments of real ennui in Ellen's new, rural life, and Aonghusa isn't afraid to depict Ellen as awkward and less-than-smoking-hot in a way that isn't gimmicky. The refreshing blasts of reality give the book emotional heft, and the credible romance that eventually develops is a break from the standard mold."