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This book is set in Ireland so the diction sets it apart plus there is a lot of slang and cussing but it seems a bit less crass when it's not American English. I listened to the CD audio book for a lot of it. I always enjoy hearing the accents are they are spoken instead of trying to read an accent in my head.
I once heard a friend say that there are only three stories in the world and everything else is just a twist on the original three. This novel is a twist on Romeo and Juliette: Mr. Mackey and Mrs. Daly dated when they were younger and then married other people but stayed in the neighborhood. When their kids fell in love with each other it became a problem.
On a scale of 1 - 5:
Sex - Insinuation that ex-wife's new boyfriend might be a pedophile in a casual, ex-messing-with-ex style continues over a whole page. Several male thoughts on women. This is every day stuff - nothing outrageous.
Religion - Francis told his Ma he didn't want to take communion in the church but if he did the divorce wouldn't be a problem - only the number of people he slept with that weren't his wife. Any religious aspects are very subtle.
Gruesome - An urban legend that parents used to keep kids away from bad areas (p. 73). A discovery in an abandoned house (p. 81). It is a murder mystery but considering the topic it is not overly gruesome.
Suspense - I'm no Agatha Christie but I pretty much had this one figured out.
Morality - These are just average, every day people who are doing their best to get through life in the best way they can. There are no candidates for sainthood, but I'm pretty sure if these characters were real, I'd see them all in the afterlife (except for the killer).
I had a hard time keeping all the siblings straight at first. As best I can determine, Carmel is the oldest. Shay is one year younger than Carmel. Francis is one year younger than Shay. Kevin is five years younger than Francis. Jackie is five years younger than Kevin. Carmel is married to Trevor and has four kids. Shay lives upstairs from the parents and works at a bike shop. Kevin sells TVs. Jackie is a hairdresser and is in a relationship with Gavin.
I gleaned from somewhere that this book is one in a series, or maybe the third in a trilogy. Kudos to Ms. French for making this book stand alone as any piece of a series should do. I enjoyed this story, but don't feel compelled to go seek out anymore. However, if another of the series fell on my lap in an airplane and I had nothing else to do - I'd read it as opposed to taking a nap.
Question: Can you imagine waiting for someone to come back for 22 years, even as you go through life? How would that affect you?
Question: As he's leaving the crime scene on page 82 Francis heard the voices in the basement and felt, "that the hall door opened onto the life I had been born in, that none of this was happening." What did he mean by that?
Question: What goes through Frank's mind between arguing with Mr. Daly outside the crime scene over whose Rose was and gently sending Mr. Daly home to wait for word? (p. 82-83)
Question: Were you surprised that Shay said he'd been with Rosie?
Question: Who did you suspect killed Rosie?
Question: What was your theory about what happened to Kevin?
Question: Was Olivia right to let Holly meet Frank's family without his knowledge?
Discuss: Frank, through the author, gets rather descriptive on various occasions about the female anatomy. Is that strange when you consider that the book is written by a female?
Question: Why is it that even in a situation where Frank was so removed from his family and had so much to resent his dad for, he still turns back to a five year old (ref. p. 358)? Does this ever happen to you with your parents?
This may be the most pathetic thing I've ever admitted: deep down, a speck of me clung on to the chance that he might actually have something worthwhile to say. He was my da. When I was a kid, before I copped that he was a world-class f*** nugget, he was the smartest man in the world; he knew everything about everything, he could beat up the Hulk with one hand while he bicep-curled grand pianos with the other, a grin from him lit up your whole day. (p. 360)
Question: What do you think happened after? Did Francis and Olivia go on a date? and then? Did he see his family again? Did Holly?
Serve digestive biscuits like on page 19 when Francis went home about the suitcase. In America we call these crackers.
Serve egg (salad) sandwiches like at Carmel's engagement party (p. 120).
Serve Guinness, Gin and Tonics, and/or Baby Cham like the siblings had at the pub (p. 112).
Serve soft butter and reconstituted ham sandwiches on white bread in triangles like on p. 274 when Frank was polishing silver and talking to his mom in the kitchen.