“Love is the most selfish of all the passions” ~ Alexandre Dumas
When Liv Callaghan inherits her grandmother’s cottage in Ireland, it offers escape from London and her marriage to her alcoholic husband Douglas. She travels back to the beautiful place where she spent idyllic childhood summer holidays. She learns to enjoy the challenge of living in the rustic cottage, which is without electricity or running water. But looming over her is a family secret that curtailed the summer visits of her youth.
Unexpectedly she meets her first love, Aidan. But he’s married now and lives locally with his family. Twenty years ago he broke her heart, so what happens when they get the chance to rekindle their relationship? Can you ever go back and what are the consequences for those close to you?
Liv Callaghan works as a librarian in London. She is married to Douglas, a doctor – and a drunk. Douglas drains all the love out of their marriage by his drinking. She is fed up of the humiliations, excuses, disappointments, and despair that his drinking has generated. When she receives word that she has inherited her grandmother’s rustic cottage in south-west Ireland, she views the bequest as serendipity. A perfect chance to escape Douglas – a time to clear her mind and think.
“There were always the words you spoke, concealing the ones you swallowed, those words that sank down to your chest and lay there sullenly.”
When she arrives, crossing the quaint, hump-backed bridge, the cottage is exactly as she remembers from her childhood. Glenkeen is rustic and magical. The rustic is comprised of no electricity or running water. The magical is the serene surroundings, the bracing fresh air, the silence, and the marvelous waters from the old well.
Liv discovers an Uncle Owen she had all but forgotten. They get along famously and she is delighted to have a relationship with him. It is from Owen that she learns some long hidden family secrets.
“She feels lighter, unburdened.
There are time when she finds herself smiling for no reason.”
Just when Liv is settling in nicely, getting her head together by new routines in a simpler life, she meets her first love, Aiden. Somehow it seems right. Right time, right place. Though they are both married to other people, their love seems unchanged from their university days. Who would have thought she would rediscover him again HERE?
“Memory lane is an enticing place but not necessarily pleasant.”
Aiden left his stressful computer-related career in England to move here to Ireland with his wife Maeve and their wee daughter, Carmel. He uprooted his family to become a market farmer. He relishes his work tending his garden and then selling his produce at the market stalls in Castlegrey. He adores Carmel, who is a precocious old soul in a child’s body.
Liv and Aiden know that by rekindling their love, they are heading for trouble. Now other people are involved. People who will suffer greatly by their treasured happiness. When the inevitable happens, and their love is discovered, what will become of them?
I read this novel in two sittings. I WAS Liv. I WAS living in that Irish cottage. It takes skillful writing to so immerse the reader in the written word. This is not a romance novel. The love is somehow more mature, the ending not necessarily happy… Would I recommend this novel? For sure! I loved it!
I requested this novel from NetGalley on the strength of a previous novel by the same author that I really enjoyed. “The lady vanished“, a mystery, was a favorite as well. Guess I’ve found another favorite author!
I was provided with a digital copy of this novel by Joffe Books via NetGalley. After reading this wonderful novel, I wanted to write a review.
Gretta Mulrooney was born and educated in London, of Irish parents. She studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Ulster, Magee college in Derry. She has worked in education and social care.
She started writing in her thirties and is the author of five literary fiction novels. She has had several short stories commissioned by the BBC and read on Radio Four.
Always an avid reader of crime fiction and psychological thrillers, she has started a series of crime novels featuring charismatic private detective Tyrone Swift. (See my review of the first novel in this great new series)