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SAVED BY THE BOOK

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

There are times when I just love cold and wet weather. These are the times when I use to catch up on reading and the past month has been a real bonus time for book worms.

Pre-Christmas I had read that chilling book ” The Choice” by Edith Eger about her personal Holocaust survival. This is really the most remarkable story of resilience I have ever read. It was recommended to me by a fellow reader and long-time friend. I really felt moved and enriched by reading it.

I had also read ‘The Quiet Revolution” by Michael Shiel about rural electrification and that little gem of a book “Then there was light” by PJ Cunningham dealing with personal stories from that same era in Irish life. These are both rich social histories of a developing Ireland.

Then came Christmas and the annual Christmas presents from family members.

First up was that great book, “The Promised Land” by Barak Obama. This was one hell of a great read during wet and dull January. It explored his background, his upbringing, meeting Michele and finally the presidency of the US.I got really engrossed in all 700 pages of it.

I really loved that book .I felt I got to know the Obamas personally. I walked the election roads with them. I felt their pain as they struggled initially to cope with life in the White House and how they adapted to it. If you want a good read, try it out.

Now another family member presented me with an even bigger tome in the form of ‘Troubled Blood” by the one and only Robert Galbraith. This is a 927 page, highly inventive, unputdownable book as some of the blurb says.

I had read the other four books dealing with Detective Strike and his co-investigator Robin and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. In this new book, published in 2020 ,they take on a forty-year-old cold case unsolved murder involving the disappearance of a doctor. This is an absolutely riveting read. It has more twists and turns than the Healy Pass crossing over the highest peaks of the Caha mountains between Cork and Kerry. I’m sure some of you must have driven over that desolate other worldly twisting winding road when you turn of the Béara Drive and head down into Killarney. That’s how many twists there are with “Troubled Blood”, but I loved the ending.

I isolated myself for two weeks and was quite pleased that the weather was as inclement as it was. I was blissfully unaware of Covid or educational matters. It was a great piece of escapism from our present woes.

I thought I was over escapism until I was presented with that international best seller “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins. I was attracted to this book in the first instance by the author’s surname and that she had two children named Aoife and Clodagh. Even better was that she took part in the Rose of Tralee contest in 1993. Her husband had been one of the undocumented Irish . I was hooked straight away.

Once I read the front page, I knew this was going to be a real page turning book . Like Ann Pratchett said ‘I couldn’t put it down. I’ll never stop thinking about it”.

John Grisham said “It’ been a long time since I turned pages as fast as I did with “American Dirt”.

It is a real book of our time mired in controversy . It deals with migrants from Mexico trying to cross the American border. The book deals with the issue by concentrating on a small group of people who suffered greatly in getting across. It is a book published in 2020 that somehow manages to avoid mentioning Trump while referring to “The Wall” at times. It has incurred the wrath of some Latinos and Mexican groups for an inaccurate depiction of them.

The book has had huge sales and it has also prompted people like Oprah Winfrey to promise to have more Latino writers on her book club shows .

If you want a super read, go out and borrow it or buy it. I think you will enjoy it. I lost most of three nights’ sleep enjoying the read. It was worth it all.

I shall treasure the nice memories I have from reading and writing during the restricted and socially deprived lockdown periods.

Now I am looking forward to reading Graham Norton’s latest book “Home Stretch” and also, Gwen Florio’s latest book “Best Laid Plans”. I have known the Florio family for the past 40 years and admire Gwen’s books and her nominated pieces from her war correspondent days. I blogged a piece on the family some time ago.

I also have “ The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig lined up.

Edith Eger’s other book “The Gift” is in the house and I believe it is a great read. I think that should bring me up to the end of the present and hopefully last lockdown.

I also dip in and out of two little history books “The History of Celbridge “ by my old friend, Tony Doohan, and “The Windswept Shore, A History of The Courtown District” by Anna Kinsella.

Meanwhile we had to give the lawns their first cut this week and various flowerpots had to be refreshed after the winter battering and some new violas were planted to give a bit of colour to the window boxes.

While I was absorbed in my reading binge mother nature has some lovely crocus and daffodils in bloom. The hydrangeas are budding nicely too. The little “Tete a Tete” dwarf daffodils are making their presence felt too.

The Hostas, likewise are venturing to shoot up some early greenery

The Brunnera Jack Frost has thrown out a few nice leaves and some blue flowers.

Our Camelias have some lovely red and white flowers adorning them and bringing their dark green foliage to life. Yes! spring is in the air.

The reading, writing, gardening, regular beach and wood walking should keep me busy till May 2021 when we should be vaccinated and liberated somewhat.

Stay well, stay safe and continue doing whatever it is keeps you active and motivated.

We have got to be optimistic and positive in our lives so let’s plan ahead with hope in our hearts. As they say in that great 1945 show tune from “Carousel” “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

When you walk through a storm

Hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm

There’s a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind

Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone.

This song has become an anthem for medical staff, first responders, and those in quarantine during the current Corona virus pandemic. Let it be our anthem too.

Gura fada faoi bhláth sibh uilig gan easpa ar bhúr sláinte

Slán go fóill agus beir bua.

Mick O Callaghan. 24/02/2021

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