One of the first reasons I accepted this book to review was mostly due to the fact that I was getting a little overdosed on teen-lit. The synopsis seemed very plain and unoriginal: a girl goes travelling to Ireland and experiences love, trust and friendship that changes her life and those around her. Seems pretty routine right?
Well, this book was all that, and so much more. I couldn’t put it down, I adored Heather Barbieri’s prose. She has an exquisite sense of comic timing mixed with sentimentality, that does not cross over into cheesiness. If you enjoyed any of Cecilia Ahern’s novels, then I think this would be a good one to add to your To Be Read list.
Kate’s boyfriend just broke up with her, not to long after her mother had passed away from cancer. Fulfilling a promise to her mother, Kate packed up her belongings and took nearly a month touring the vistas of her mother’s homeland, Ireland. During the trip, Kate finds a ride into a small little village of Glenmara, very the world is still as much as it was 100 years ago. Technology is sparce (computers that is). People travel on foot, or on bikes. The boating industry is key, as is religion. Kate befriends a group of elderly women lacemakers, soon picking up the craft and introducing a few modern modifications (lace undergarments to be exact) into the mix. Kate’s introduction into the society sends the local priest into a tailspin of frustration as he begins to lose his control over the community. The women Kate befriended were unique, strong independent women, but also normal human women, with vulnerabilities, weaknesses and fears.
There is Bernie, the widow whom Kate ends up living with. Aileen, Bernie’s best friend, and one of the biggest obstacles in Kate’s new life in Glenmara. Moira is Aileen’s sister, and faces her own battles of love with an abusive boyfriend, Oona takes care of her elderly father, while trying to start a new life for herself, and Colleen is always waiting for her husband to return from his trip to sea to bring in more money for their struggling family. As she develops friendships and begins to find love again, Kate changes the lives of those around her by changing herself first.
The book is very much steeped in Irish culture, history and mythology. If you enjoy that, then this a good book. It mixes folklore with contemporary episodes at locations that are hundreds of years old. Perhaps to signify that the past is never that far away from us, no matter how far away we run from it. I was sobbing by the end of the book, but I was pleased with the ending and the overall progression of the characters.The Lacemakers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri HarperCollins, 2009 ISBN 0061774393 268 pages
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