"It's a strange dichotomy, so it is; feeling and knowing; the feeling feels truer that the know of its falseness."
It's hard to read a book by an Irish writer and not be reading it with an Irish accent in your head. Or maybe just that's just me.
This book blew me away. The deftness with which the stories are pulled together the further you delve into the book is astonishing. Is this a novella? At a pinch I'd say it squeezes into that mold.
Each chapter of this book is told from the perspective of twenty-one people. From women, to men, children, the elderly and even the ghost of a recently departed, tell their story. Each adding their piece of the jigsaw puzzle of life in a small county in Ireland. Through their thoughts and ramblings, we're painted a picture of the trying times they're living through.
The impression I have from this story is one of tiredness. A tired country with tired people trying to make ends meet. They're generally dissatisfied with their lot. And who can blame them? The economy is a mess. Jobs are hard to come by. Many are left high & dry by bosses doing the midnight flit to sunnier climes, leaving them with months of unpaid wages. While others are being ripped off to do more work for less money, the logic being they should be "grateful" to have any job at all. It's no wonder there's so much angst going on. And bitterness, that will be paid for dearly.
"I'm owed a small fortune. The sky is falling down."
There are themes of mental health and violence, as the characters struggle to make sense of their lives, and life in general.
"I never told anyone about the blackness I feel sometimes, weighing me down and making me think things I don't want to think."
Despite all this, as is the way of the world, there is also lust, longing and love. From fledgling relationships, to relationships gone wrong, to comfortable love, we're right there with them, inside the characters' heads.
"There's something unspeakable about the attraction between a man and a woman. It can't ever be explained."
I loved how the more chapters you read, that you got a fuller perspective of events that each of the characters is describing. A 360 degree perspective. It's beautifully done.
I felt quite sad reading this book. So many of the characters made such insightful observations about both themselves and the world around them, it made me catch my breath. And my heart ache. But there are also humorous moments (dark as they are). Blink, and you'll miss them.
I found it difficult to write a coherent review, as there is just so much going on in it. So many tangents, so many stories.
This is a solid 4.5★s for me. I've found another favourite writer in Donal Ryan. I'm looking forward to catching up with more of his books.
I love that the story ended with Bobby & Triona. It gave me hope 💗
"Tears spilled down his face. I just said oh love; oh love, what matters now? What matters only love?"
The best word to describe the relationship between Bobby and his father is toxic. Everyday Bobby travels back to the little cottage in which he grew up to check if his father is still alive, and everyday Bobby is disappointed to find that he is. There is a red metal heart in the centre of the gate to the cottage, rusted, paint flaking off, a metaphor for his father’s equally broken down heart. We find later in the book that his father had an eerily similar relationship with his own father.
Ireland is still reeling from financial collapse and recession when Pokey Burke, Bobby’s boss, disappears owing Bobby and many others money and wages. Bobby was the foreman of a building crew, looked up to by the lads, but secretly lacking confidence and seeing himself as a coward, a failure, searching for reasons as to why his wife sticks by his side.
Bobby is the dominant, central character in, for such a short novel, a massive cast of twenty-one. These character’s personal narratives are woven together to form the story that is The Spinning Heart. With all these characters, we can see the debilitating effects that a national crisis has on a small rural town. How the recession seems to amplify and exacerbate smaller personal problems. At times the town almost feels like a puzzle and each character an integral piece needed to piece together the overall story. Each piece or character will often have links to other characters and the reader may learn more about a character from another character’s perspective. This brings to the fore, a major theme of this novel. Misconception and how, with lack of information, or the prevalence of rumours, how easy it is to judge somebody erroneously. We bear witness to how these erroneous views can have drastic, fatal consequences, at the end of the book.
As we approach the end of the book, the narratives tend to get darker, with a child abduction and a murder rocking the little town. Again, rumours and innuendo cloud the character’s perspectives as the culprits are sought after.
Ryan returns to Bobby’s narrative at the end of the book and does a wonderful job of filling in the blanks and again showing us that time after time things are not what they seem, and how we confidently believe something to be how we perceive it may not be the correct perception at all. Wonderful debut. 4 stars.
Once again Nat and I are in agreeance and once again Nat delivers a superior review. Nat gave it a 4.5 and I gave it a 4 giving it a total of 8.5, our highest ranking yet. It is a great little book and such a quick read, highly recommended.