Book 17 Deirdre Madden – One by One in the Darkness
Have had a spurt of reading over the last week or so and now have a few book reviews to write-up. Book Seventeen was bought on the back of reading an extract at my creative writing course. The writing style appealed to me and although we only read a small extract in the class and then discussed the writing style I wanted to read more so I found a second-hand version.
It’s set in Northern Ireland post troubles about a family with three sisters. The family has been badly affected by the troubles and you see it through each of the sister’s perspectives. The older one has become a lawyer fighting for justice in what even now seems an unjust world. The middle sister has escaped to London and has a glamorous job in a magazine. And the youngest who longs to escape is trapped by the fact that she is needed by her mother a bird who would like to flee the nest but can’t as she binds everything together. The story starts when Cate the middle sister comes home with a secret that she has to share.
I studied the troubles when I studied politics at Edinburgh University. More than that it was an important part of growing up in the UK in the 1970’s to 1990’s. But living in Scotland as much as it scared me and I remember each of the major bombings as if they were yesterday. I wasn’t personally affected. Which I guess luckily most of us are not. We see war and tragedy on the TV and Radio, we hear of it through others. We see the wars, the awful loss of life, the hatred it builds on both sides. We know people who have cruel long term illnesses. But until you actually live it you don’t actually know how it feels.
At a recent book club meeting we were talking about to “Kill a Mocking Bird” which vies with Dr Zhivago as my favourite book of all time. And the key phrase that “to know how someone feels you have to walk in their shoes.” I have tried since reading to Kill a Mocking Bird to live by that and sometimes I succeed and often I don’t. But recently I have felt that unless you have actually gone through a situation do you actually really know how that feels? As hard as you try to?
This book brought that home to me. You see the effect the troubles has had on one normal family in Northern Ireland. What happened to them will affect them for the rest of their lives. Tt’s how they learn to live with it. You learn about the wonder of family ties and ultimately the power that we have to love one another.
It’s not a long book only 181 pages but it’s a very powerful book and makes you realise that at the centre of every news item we see there is a family who are living and breathing what we are watching as news.