Tuesday 18 June 2013

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

In the aftermath of Ireland's financial collapse, dangerous 
tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds. The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.

I first heard about The Spinning Heart when Waterstones announced their Waterstones 11 list in January this year, so I was intrigued to know what this story was like. Thanks to Transworld Books I was able to have a preview of this debut novel by Donal Ryan.

"My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn't yet missed a day of letting me down."

This opening line made me laugh- there is little bit of dark humour in this novel, which lightens the mood of the book a little.  The book is set in Ireland after the 1980's recession and the hardships that people went through. The author also writes with an Irish accent if that makes sense- so I found myself reading in an Irish accent in my head :) 'so it is' and 'Jaysus' came up quite a lot; but I think this made the novel unique and I guess it gave some authenticity. 

Each chapter is written in the view point of a different character and there are 21 characters in total, starting with Bobby who is the main character as each character's chapter links back to him in some way.

For a debut novel this was actually really clever. The author gets across the individuality of the characters really well and you empathise/dislike them in different ways. It was interesting as each character was written in the first person, but it came across more as a diary entry. So it was more like they were writing in the past tense. I thought this was clever as I think it would be quite hard to do.

The character I felt the most sorry for was Lily dubbed the village bike and blamed when she got pregnant! It takes two you know!!

I think I preferred the chapters in the view of the women- sorry if that's sexist, but the author made most of the men come across as horrible or horny all the time!! I think the only male character that I liked was Bobby, as he seemed the nicest of them all and you learn more about him through the other characters as the book goes on.

The author gets across really well just how tough it was in Ireland after the 1980's recession. Which I think explains some of the violence in the novel. 

I did find it a little bit difficult to get into the novel at first as it was a writing style that I was not used to. But once I started to see that each chapter was a different person in their small Irish community, I really started to get into the flow of the book.


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