Today it’s my stop on the book tour for The Book Of The Gaels by James Yorkston. Thanks to Oldcastle Books for inviting me and my beautiful physical gifted copy. Here is my unbiased review.
Rural West Cork, Ireland. Two Kids, Joseph and Paul, and their struggling, poet father, Fraser, are battling grief and poverty. When a letter arrives with a summons to Dublin and the promise of publication, it offers a chink of light – the hope of rescue. But Dublin is a long, wet and hungry way from West Cork in the mid-70s, especially when they have no money – just the clothes they stand up in and an old, battered suitcase.
So begins an almost anti-roadtrip of flipsides and contradictions – dreams and nightmares, promises and disappointments, generosity and meanness, unconditional love and shocking neglect.
In simple, beautiful, lyrical prose, James Yorkston’s new novel takes us on that trip, as seen through the eyes of a brave and resourceful but poor and frightened child. It tells of the emptying, paralysing pain of grief and loss, tempered only by the hope of rescue and the redemption of parental love. It also tells of Fraser’s love for his children’s dead mother, as hidden within the battered suitcase is Fraser’s heart-breaking collection of poems – The Book of the Gaels.
A book that has a beautiful cover and an unusual title could do nothing less than make me curious to see what this story was all about. It is such a poignant story that I defy anyone not to become emotional and involved with this family. Not just moving it is also funny and tragic at times.
Set in the 1970s, in Ireland we follow a penniless poet and his young sons as they journey from West Cork to Dublin. The boys father, Patrick has his family embarking on the journey due to the promise of the publication of his grief filled poems. With nothing but their old suitcase and the clothes they have on their backs, the family set of not knowing what the future holds good or bad.
A beautifully told story that holds nothing back. Throughout their journey they suffer setback after setback and I couldn’t help but feel every bit of their pain and desperation. I felt like I had their backs all the way and was willing them on to find the place they could settle and live healthy and normal lives. It does have light moments too. These do stop this book from becoming too sad and made me feel how well the author had written the book. Whether you have good or bad times there are always times where you have a chink of light or something that cracks you up. Even if it’s only for ten minutes. I feel this myself in my life.
The Book Of The Gaels is a story that I was left thinking about for days after I read the last chapter. It’s anybodys story, take out the poet and his sons and place any family down on their luck in. It struck me right in my heart, being a family where nothing ever goes right and every little thing is a battle. I loved this book.