In a short blurb? We talk books.
I’ve only read about fifteen pages of Tana French’s most recent novel, Faithful Place, but I needed to tell you all right away: GO OUT AND BUY THIS BOOK. I am not even kidding. I haven’t gotten this excited about a book since I was knee-deep in Water for Elephants, the book that revived my years’ abandon of fiction, and even then, I wasn’t this excited.
But wait, let me backtrack for a moment:
My boyfriend bought this book for me months ago, when I was in my post-WFE (Water for Elephants) slump, and I was wallowing in the certainty that no other book would make me that happy again, I would never find that same connection, no one would treat me as well as it did, etc. etc.
I read the back copy, gave a nice nod, thought: yeah… this sounds interesting…and placed it somewhere in the middle of my reading queue, more out of respect and appreciation (it was sweet…few people buy books for me, because I’m so damn picky with them) for my boyfriend than genuine eagerness to read this book. It sat on my shelf since then, me giving it no more than a cursory glance as I grabbed book after other book off the shelf. After finally deciding to give it a chance, I am now banging my head against the bookshelf:
I want to inhale this book, swim in the language, drink the words in, let it seep into my skin, and bury myself in its mysteries.
Did I mention this was a mystery? Beautifully crafted language supporting a haunting thriller? And on top of that it is based in Ireland, written by a native Irish-woman. I’m heading to Dublin in a few months, and I wanted to read some Irish literature before I go, and I knew I should read James Joyce but really wasn’t in the mood… Luckily, I stumbled upon this compromise!
Now, please cross your fingers with me that this will not be another Little Bee, where I fell in love with it for five seconds but couldn’t get past the first 100 pages.
Now for a taste:
An excerpt from the Prologue:
In all your life, only a few moments matter. Mostly you never get a good look at them except in hindsight, long after they’ve zipped past you: the moment when you decided whether to talk to that girl, slow down on that blind bend, stop and find that condom. I was lucky, I guess you could call it. I got to see one of mine face-to-face, and recognize it for what it was. I got to feel the riptide pull of my life spinning around me, one winter night, while I waited in the dark at the top of Faithful Place.
I was nineteen, old enough to take on the world and young enough to be a dozen kinds of stupid, and that night as soon as both my brothers were snoring I slid out of our bedroom with my rucksack on my back and my Docs hanging from one hand. A floorboard creaked and in the girls’ room one of my sisters murmured in her sleep, but I was magic that night, riding high on that surge tide, unstoppable; my parent didn’t even turn over on the pullout bed as I moved through the front room, close enough to touch
I waited for her at the end of the road … listened one last time to my street alive and moving down the long currents of the night. A woman laughing, Ah, now who said you could, a window slamming down. Scrabble of a rat along brickwork, a man coughing, the whoosh of a bike around the corner; the low fierce grumble of Mad Johnny Malone, in the basement of Number 14, talking himself to sleep. Couple-noises somewhere, muffled whimpers, rhythmic bumps, and I thought about the smell of Rosie’s neck and grinned up at the sky. I heard the bells of the city chime for midnight. Christchurch, St. Pat’s, St. Michan’s, huge round notes tumbling down from the sky like a celebration, ringing in our own secret New Year.
When they rang two the mix-up hit me like a kick in the hole. It cataputed me right over the end wall into the garden of Number 16, condemned since before I was born, colonized by us kids ignoring the awful warnings, littered with beer cans and fag ends and lost virginities. I leaped up the rotten stairs four at a time without caring who heard. I was so sure, I could already see her, furious copper curls and fists on hips, Where the fuck have you been?
Splintered floorboards, holes punched in the plaster, debris and cold dark drafts and no one. In the top front room I found the note, just a page ripped out a kid’s school copy. On the bare floor, fluttering in the pale rectangle of light from the window, it looked like it has been there for a hundred years. That was when I felt that riptide change, jacknife and turn deadly, much too strong to fight and not on my side any more.
I didn’t take the note with me. By the time I left Number 16 I knew it by heart, and I had the rest of my life to try to believe it. I left it where it was and went back to the end of the road. I waited there in the shadows, watching the plumes of smoke that my breath sent into the lamplight, while the bells tolled three and four and five. The night faded to a thin sad greay and round the corner a milk cart clattered over cobblestones towards the dairy, and I was still waiting for Rosie Daily at the top of Faithful Place.