Well, that was a good idea, to take a break from blogging right in the middle of Read Ireland month! I just had one of those slumps, and I’ve got behind on reading everyone’s lovely blogs, too, so I’m sorry about that and I will catch up. Here’s my first read for #ReadIreland18 – I’ve actually managed to read two books for the month, as I had two set in Ireland on my TBR, something that doesn’t usually happen!

Cathy Kelly’s a lovely writer, having inherited the dual mantles of Maeve Binchy and Marian Keyes (I know Marian is thankfully still with us, but she can’t produce a million books a year so Cathy fills in the gaps). She’s more up to date than Maeve and less madcap and funny than Marian, so definitely has an interest and a place of her own, and she writes lovely stories about believable, interesting and often quirky people.

Cathy Kelly – “Between Sisters”

(3 June 2017, Oxfam Books)

The whole premise of this book can be summed up by a few sentences about 85% of the way in:

I didn’t do the right thing at all; it just seemed like the right thing at the time. But when you don’t tell the truth at the start, when do you tell it later?

Sisters Cassie (mum with a taxing career and a marriage that’s going dull) and Coco (free spirit, runs a vintage clothes shop, hasn’t had a man in her life since she threw Red out for cheating) were irreparably damaged when their mother disappeared when Coco was just a baby. They’re still seeing the repercussions today, quick to move away when things look like they’re going to get abandoned, but always relying on each other.

Can Cassie save her marriage from her mother-in-law? Will Coco ever trust a man again? Their grandmother is still around, with her ramshackle house and garden and her Thursday group of friends (I love how the characters span students to OAPs, all lively and with their own interests and needs) but she’s also full to bursting of secrets. When Coco ends up having to support her best friend through a trauma, it seems to trigger Cassie’s memories, and everything gets almost too much to bear.

While a rich cast of side characters (I loved Phoebe and her fashion course friend Ian) filling the squares of Dublin and lots of nice, satisfying detail, we’re still waiting for those secrets, which we learn about subtly and slowly, to burst out. And what’s this all got to do with a seemingly random woman in London who might be about to host a family reunion show?

The book is not afraid to go near Issues, with some quite hard-hitting stuff about addiction. But the great thing is that it’s full of pugs and one cat, and even the presumably long-gone pugs are there for comfort and nothing sad is mentioned, and the current ones do fine – thank you, Cathy Kelly, for that. A lovely warm read – you can guarantee you’ll get a good comfort read with this author.

I’ve read a few since then, including “The Hate U Give” which was AMAZING but I’m kind of struggling to review it, and of course a book on marathon running as that’s what I’m about to do. It’s good to be back and I’ll be back here more often again now. Wondering if any reader research institute will want my 20 years’ worth of paper reading journals … Oh, I’ve got some book confessions, but they’ll have to wait for another day. Will I get all my March reads in before my Murdoch project round-up on Friday?