Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Closet of Savage Mementoes by Nuala Ní Chonchúir


I love to read new Irish fiction especially from women writers. I had been aware of Nuala for a while, had read interviews with her but hadn't read any of her work so I was intrigued when I learned this novel (her second) was on the way. The premise sounded very interesting a young Dublin woman Lillis escapes her grief at the death of her boyfriend and the difficult relationship with her alcoholic mother by taking a job as a waitress in the Scottish highlands. She falls for her much older boss and feels that her future is secure until a terrible betrayal brings her to crisis and she has to make a momentous decision. I was intrigued too to learn that this story was based on Nuala's personal experiences. To say that I loved this book would be a huge understatement. I felt the characters breathe out of the page, the writing is stark, sensual and intense, Nuala is a force to be reckoned with, her writing is poetic, sharp, spare and utterly beautiful. The character of Lillis is a brave and raw portrait of womanhood in all its states; daughter, wife, mother and lover and the portrait of her relationship with her mother Verity is a study in claustrophobia. In just under 200 pages I discovered a story and a group of characters so real and haunting I would not be surprised to meet them in the street. This book is so good I wish I had written it myself. 

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