The debut novel of a creative writing graduate always leads me to be equally jealous and proud that the subject of my first degree, whilst occasionally lambasted by Big Names, still manages to produce excellent writers.
This book, a beautiful yet sad story of a family who suffers a great loss and the impact that has upon them, is very well written, well crafted, and has the sort of delicate structure we were taught to create at Bretton back in the mid noughties.
From the first chapter we know of the tragedy that befalls the Campbells, and the device of then using the voice of someone whose end we know is very very clever, yet subtly done. Lane writes from a child’s point of view without the need to turn to stereotypes or lazy tricks, the child is a complete person, the decisions they make make sense.
The book centres around the collapse of a family who for four generations have lived and ruled the land stolen from desperate starving tenant farmers during the Irish Famine. The lasting impact of the colonisation of a country by a merciless oppressor is still felt by the owners of the Dulough estate, and the ideas of inherited guilt and how this affects your mental and spiritual health and well played out.
All in all this is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it for fans of Helen Dunmore, as the same ethereal tone of the writing lingers as in some of her books. This also has Future Woman’s Prize Nominee all over it and I would be very interested in what Lane has in store in the future.