Over the course of the summer months I will be sharing the recommended authors who feature in the Smorgasbord Bookshelf along with their books and a selected review.
Having read and enjoyed the books by Claire Fullerton, today I am sharing the delightful novel set in Ireland, Dancing to an Irish Reel.
N.B Claire has contacted me tonight 3rd August to let me know that she has just received the rights back for Dancing to an Irish Reel from her publisher and will be hopefully republishing the book again. However I know some of you already have the book on your TBR and I hope you will read and enjoy.
About the book
While on sabbatical from her job in the Los Angeles record business, twenty-five-year old Hailey Crossan takes a trip to the west coast of Ireland , where she walks into the Galway Music Center and is offered a job too good to turn down. Friendships are formed quickly with her fellow, Irish employees, and Hailey lives thirteen miles “up the road” in the wind-swept, seaside area of Connemara, a land steeped in traditional music, where Irish is the first language.
When Hailey meets a famous local musician named Liam Hennessey, a confusing relationship begins, which Hailey thinks may be the result of differing cultures, for Liam is married to the music, and although curious about Hailey, won’t come closer nor completely go away. And so begins the push and pull of a relationship Hailey struggles to decipher as a stranger in a strange, and Hailey comes to love a land and its people with more heart and soul than she ever imagined, during a year that becomes the most pivotal of her life.
Her new job comes with one major complication—Liam Hennessey. He’s a famous Irish musician whose entire live has revolved around performing. And Hailey falls in love with him. Although Liam’s not so sure love is in the cards for him, he’s not willing to push her away completely.
And so begins Hailey’s journey to a colorful land that changes her life, unites her with friends more colorful than the Irish landscape, and gives her a chance at happiness she’s never found before.
My review for the book January 25th 2022
This is a love story. Not just between a man and a woman. It is also the slow falling in love with a culture rich in history, language and music, which can be confusing to the uninitiated who arrive expecting only to be there for a short visit.
The Irish have a way of embracing and drawing you into their way of life, and the author clearly absorbed all this richness during her time in the country in her twenties.
Traditional music is at the heart of communities throughout Ireland and Galway is the perfect setting. Nothing quite like dark smoky bars late on in the evening, when the musicians pick up their instruments and the magic begins.
The characters are beautifullly embellished with little details that immediately bring them into focus. Handsome enigmatic musicians, dapper elderly gentlemen imparting wisdom, free spirited craftsmen who have poetic souls, family dynasties where music runs in the blood.
Add in a young American conscious of being an outsider, trying to find her way through the complexity of adapting to the ebb and flow of this cultural colour, and you have a delightful reading experience.
The pace of the story is not rushed, for you would lose much of the detail and richness of the descriptions in the book. Life in Ireland is meant to be savoured. That can be an interesting and sometimes disconcerting concept for those who arrive for a quick holiday.
Expect to make some assumptions of how the relationship between Hailey and Liam will evolve through the story, but according to the cards all will be well, someday.
Other books by Claire Fullerton
About Claire Fullerton
Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Little Tea, set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the Goodreads, 2021, July Book of the Month, the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, 1st place winner in the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award, a finalist in the International Book Awards, and the Independent Authors Network 1st place in Literary Fiction winner and 2nd place winner for 2020 Book of the year.
Claire is the author of 12 X award winning Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Claire is also the author of 3X award winning, Dancing to an Irish Reel, set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary
The next book is a poetry collection that I can highly recommend Elizabeth Gauffreau – Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance
About the collection
“Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.” ~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
“Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family’s shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be. ~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review
“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.” ~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review
One of the reviews for the collection
Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.
Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a glimpse of the day—two children waiting in the car, giggling and honking the horn. Liz fills in the rest of the story here on her blog.
“For a Crooked Smile,” however, needs no additional context.
“He was my little brother.”
That poem brought me to tears (as did several others):
Grief Song III
I held her hand
as she lay dying
in my throat.
This is a book of poetry that is highly accessible, but with poems that resonate. It is a memoir in bite-size pieces. Each poem is a snapshot, a memory experienced in the way we are all hit by a sudden remembrance of a time, a place, or a person.
In “Sixty Years of Katherine,” Liz writes:
“minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers”
These lines feel both personal and universal. Those of us who have helped a parent move or who have cleared a home after they’ve passed, understand the complex emotions behind these beautiful, succinct phrases.
Also by Elizabeth Gauffreau
About Elizabeth Gauffreau
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum & Assessment for Champlain College Online, where she is an Associate Professor. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. Sally.