For the last post in this series from the archives of author Claire Fullerton, I have selected one of her book reviews. Claire is prolific reviewer and always brings out the best in both book and author…
The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey reviewed (2017) by Claire Fullerton
Because I once lived on the western coast of Ireland, and because author Lisa Cary moved to the island of Inisbofin, off Ireland’s west coast to research her first book, I’ve been following her career for many years. I’ve loved each of her four Irish themed novels, and eagerly awaited the February 7th release of her latest, The Stolen Child. It is a story much like Ireland herself: deceptive in its riddled nuances, more than the sum of its parts.
The soul of the story creeps up on you. It takes patience and willingness to allow the magic to take hold, and when it does, it is not by possession. The Stolen Child spins the kind of magic that lulls at the core of your being; affects your consciousness, waits for you to piece it together until you understand. There is little overt in this languid novel, which, again, is much like Ireland. It is a desperate story through and through, yet in the hands of author Lisa Carey, it resonates with mythical beauty, gives you a sense of timelessness, and holds you fast by its earthy, brass tacks.
In pitch-perfect language, Carey wields dialogue specific to the west coast of Ireland’s desolate environs. It is an understated language, upside down to outsiders, but once your ear attunes, you are affronted by the superfluousness of other tongues. All primary characters in The Stolen Child are women. They live cut-off from the mainland of Ireland’s west coast, twelve miles out, upon rocky, wind-swept, St. Brigid’s Island, during the one year time frame of May, 1959 to May, 1960. It is a timeframe fraught with the looming inevitability of the islanders’ evacuation from their homeland, with its generational customs and ties, to the stark reality of life on the mainland, with its glaring and soulless “mod-cons.”
Most of the characters are conflicted about leaving the island, save for the sinister Emer, who has her own selfish agenda, centered upon her only child Niall. Her sister, Rose, is the sunny, earth-mother, unflappable sort, who only sees the buried good in Emer, whereas everyone one else on the island shuns her, for her malefic, dark ways, which they intuit as dark art. Emer has one foot on the island and the other in the recesses of the fairies’ manipulative underworld. It is the American “blow-in,” Brigid, the woman with a complicated past, who has her own ties to the island from her banished mother, that cracks the carapace of Emer’s guarded and angry countenance. Together, the pair explore an illicit relationship, but when it snaps back, Emer retaliates with a force that effects the entire island and twists her worst fears into fate.
The Stolen Child is magnificently crafted, for it is a sweeping story set on a cloistered island, which has nothing to recommend it save for its quays, its view, and its eponymous holy-well. This is a novel rife with character study that is quintessentially Irish, yet applicable far afield. In themes of motherhood, hope, desperation, and hopelessness, the characters take what little they have and wrestle it into making do. It is the power of steel intention that drives this story, and the reader receives it from all conceivable angles. I recommend The Stolen Child to all who love Ireland, to all who love an exceptional, creative story, and to all who love language used at its finest. All praise to the author Lisa Carey. I eagerly await the next book.
©Claire Fullerton 2017
Books by Claire Fullerton
My review for Mourning Dove from 2018 – A family set within the opulent culture of the Deep South
I am not sure that anyone who is not born into the opulent, and long cultivated upper echelons of Southern culture, would be able to slip into its charming, but strictly adhered to rules of engagement easily. Especially when you are on the cusp of your teen years and brought up in the very different environment. As are Millie aged ten and her brother Finlay, who is eighteen months older.
“We had Minnesota accents, we were white as the driven snow, and we both had a painfully difficult time deciphering the Southern accent, which operates at lightening speed, and doesn’t feel the need for enunciation. Instead, it trips along the lines of implication.”
Posey comes from an affluent Southern family and was brought up in a sprawling stucco French Chateau which she left having met a charismatic and rich Yankee. Her marriage is over, and the wealth that she is accustomed to is gone; and she has little choice but to return to her family home in Memphis. She slips right back into society where she left off, as she takes over the running of the house, and with four years until an income will be available from her inherited trust fund, other means must be found.
The intricacies of the society that the two children find themselves inserted into, has little relation to the outside world. Steeped in tradition, long forged alliances, eccentricities and acceptable behaviour, stretching back through many generations. Little has changed, and that is the way it is orchestrated to remain. Clearly defined roles for males and females are perpetuated in the schooling that prepares the young to continue the status quo into the future, and non-conformity is frowned upon. You will fit in or face exclusion.
I was provided with an ARC copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
This novel is about the relationship between a brother and sister and is written from Millie’s perspective, now 36 years old, as she revisits their childhood and teenage years. She is looking for answers and clues as to where her relationship with Finlay, which had been so solid and close, began to disconnect. Without a doubt for me one of elements that is crucial to this, is their mother, and Claire Fullerton has done a masterful job in creating her self-absorbed but somehow vulnerable character.
“My mother did not walk into a room, she sashayed, borne from the swivel of her twenty-four inch waist. Her name was Posey, and although there was a lot more to her that she ever let on, to all appearances, the name suited her perfectly.”
The story is not fast paced, flowing smoothly as it meanders through their lives of Posey, Millie and Finlay. You are drawn into their experiences, and you find yourself mentally bookmarking certain events and revelations, that explain how such a close bond became disconnected. I found myself engaging with the main characters early on, and I became emotionally attached to them all. Those of us with brothers and sisters can find parallels in our own relationships, especially those that might not be as close as they were when growing up.
Mourning Dove is elegantly written with a brilliantly descriptive language that has you immersed in this very exclusive and opulent society. I dare you not to read, and not come away with a distinctive drawl of lightening speed, without the need of enunciation!
Buy the books and audio editions: https://www.amazon.com/Claire-Fullerton/e/B00HRJEUJ4
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Claire-Fullerton/e/B00HRJEUJ4
Read other reviews and follow Claire on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton
About Claire Fullerton
Claire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of contemporary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. Dancing to an Irish Reel is a finalist in the 2016 Kindle Book Review Awards, and a 2016 Readers’ Favorite. Claire is the author of “A Portal in Time,” a paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods, set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing.
Her third novel, Mourning Dove, is a Southern family saga, published in June, 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. She is one of four contributors to the book, Southern Seasons, with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, to be published in November 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn, of The Seymour Literary Agency.
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My thanks to Claire for letting me loose in her archives and I hope you will head over and enjoy reading through them as much as I have… Thanks Sally.