the next good book

Plot Driven


Victory City

"It was by no means certain that the people would choose sophistication over barbarianism.  The party line regarding members of other faiths- we are good, they are bad- had a certain infectious clarity.  So did the idea that dissent was unpatriotic.  Offered the choice between thinking for themselves and blindly following their leaders, many people would choose blindness over clear-sightedness, especially when the empire was prospering and there was food on the table and money in their pockets.  Not everybody wanted to think, preferring to eat and spend.  Not everybody wanted to love their neighbor. Some people preferred hatred." 

Small Things Like These

What’s it about? Bill Furlong is a coal and timber merchant in a small town in Ireland. It is 1985 and the Catholic Church is a powerful presence in Ireland. As Christmas Day approaches Bill finds himself reminiscing about the past as he struggles with the Christian love in his heart. What did it make me think about? Does this story really take place in 1985? Should I read it? This is a beautifully written book. Claire Keegan joins a long list of Irish writers that should not be missed. She has written a revelatory character in Bill Furlong. How she manages to convey so much in 114 pages is astonishing. Even more powerful is the fact that it is loosely based on the Magdalen laundries that the Catholic Church ran in Ireland all the way up to 1996. How was that even possible? This is literary fiction at its best! Quote- “Always it was the same, Furlong thought; always they carried mechanically on without pause, to the next job at hand. What would life be like, he wondered, if they were given time to think and reflect over things? Might their lives be different or much the same- or would they just lose the run of themselves? Even while he’d been creaming the butter and sugar, his mind was not so much upon the here and now and on this Sunday nearing Christmas with his wife and daughters so much as on tomorrow and who owed what, and how and when he’d deliver what was ordered and what man he’d leave to which task, and how and where he’d collect what was owed- and before tomorrow was coming to an end, he knew his mind would already be working in much the same way, yet again, over the day that was to follow”.

For many different reasons these books have been special to me over the years.  

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