Friday, 1 February 2013

Miserere by Caren Werlinger

It’s 1968, ten year old Connemara Mitchell, (Conn) and her family are forced to move to West Virginia, her mother’s hometown, when her father is reported missing in action in Vietnam. Her grandmother’s old home has been neglected and is run down. It needs a lot of work to make it habitable.

The house is holding untold secrets of previous occupants. Secrets of forbidden love and of times long past and forgotten. Conn has no way of knowing that she is the chosen one. The one selected to take on the task of solving the mystery surrounding her Irish ancestor, Caitriona Ni Faolain.

Caitriona vanished without a trace just after the civil war. At the heart of the mystery is a very real and virulent curse that has taken it’s toll on Conn’s family for over one hundred years. Why has Conn been chosen to solve this mystery after all these years? What is so special about her?

Conn begins to have dreams and Caitriona appears to her. With each dream the mystery begins to unravel a little bit more. But will Conn be able to solve it?

This book is quite simply a masterpiece. Caren Werlinger is without a doubt, a master storyteller. The book is extremely well written and edited. It’s a page turner from start to finish.

The story begins in Ireland around the time of the great potato famine when people were literally starving to death. It goes between the past and the present seamlessly in an easy to follow dialogue. This is a rollercoaster ride of tumultuous emotions that radiates from the pages in waves. Caitriona’s story continues on through and beyond the civil war when it stops abruptly, until Conn is chosen to reveal Caitriona’s secrets.

I really liked the way this book was laid out. It’s actually two stories rolled into one. But the stories are linked together by one person. The person needing redemption.

It’s obvious that an enormous amount of research has been done in order to accurately portray the history of the times. The scenic descriptions enabled me to totally lose myself in the story so I was living it with the characters. The characters themselves were well formed and multidimensional. Each and every one of them played their parts to perfection in order to progress this story through to it’s dramatic conclusion. The fact that the main character is a ten year old child, (going on twenty) is just right. A really good decision of Caren Werlinger’s.

There is a lot more to this book than the actual story from a historical point of view. The time span gives glimpses into how people lived in times gone by. From Ireland to the Vietnam war and beyond.

This is quite honestly one of the best historical lesbian fiction books I’ve read for a long while. I will be adding it to my list of books to re-read.

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