Tag Archives: Ireland

A Place Called Here – Review

When Sandy Shortt was just ten years old in Ireland, a local schoolmate went missing with no trace. Something about this disappearance haunted Sandy for most of her life, leading her to search frantically for any lost or missing item. Unlike her name. Sandy is a tall, dark haired beauty on a mission, and this mission leads to a land of unknowns and fateful curiosities. As Sandy grew up, she joined the Irish Garda to search for missing persons, but her drive to work overtime, led her to leave the Garda and start her own missing-persons agency. While en route to meet a new client, Sandy finds herself missing and finally discovers where all the missing things go.

Cecilia Ahern did a fantastic job with this book. Although at times the book dragged on, I really liked the concept and the new world she created in this novel. In the land of the missing, Sandy meets a number of people that she had been searching for her whole life and some point, starts to form closure with her past. There is a particular humor in Irish writing, one with I experienced earlier with The Lacemakers of Glenmara. Its a wry, ironic comedic timing, and Cecilia Ahern’s novel is full of it. Sandy Shortt is a no nonsense type of girl who tries to do her job, while fumbling through life. She has an intersting relationship with her former psychologist from high school that blossoms and dies whenever Sandy inevitably loses something, and it turns into an OCD episode trying to locate the thing. Ahern takes a good look at those that suffer losing a loved one with no answers as to why, or where they went. She tracks their obsession, sleepless nights, but even their eventual progression back into normal life and routine. It definitely makes a person wonder how they would handle having lost a loved one like that. Would you search endlessly? Or accept it as is and go back to normal life, or would you stay stagnant, always hoping and reliving life as if the missing person will show up any minute? The psychology in this book is fascinating, when you look at the handful of characters, from the missing people themselves, to their families reactions and experiences. Niether a sad book, nor a laugh out loud book, No Place Like Here is a great read.

A Place Like Here
by Cecila Ahern
Hyperion, 2008
ISBN 140130964X
352 pages


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The Lacemakers of Glenmara – Review

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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Publisher information on The Lacemakers of Glenmara