Sunday, 22 June 2008

Whose Life is it Anyway? by Sinéad Moriarty

Penguin Ireland
PIERRE is only gorgeous. Tall, dark and handsome, a professor, nice, considerate, kindly. The perfect man.
But not if your family are traditional London Irish racists. Because Pierre is really dark – in fact, he’s from the Caribbean, brought up in France.
Sinéad Moriarty’s latest – undoubtedly – bestseller-to-be starts off with a bang.
Then it all gets dull (at least for this reader) for a great chunk of the book. Moriarty decides to have a big fat sneer at everything Irish.
Niamh, her heroine, spends most of her childhood loathing Ireland and all things green. Her family are caricature patriots, with a doorbell that plays Danny Boy, green leprechaun gnomes in the garden and the girls dollied up in ringlets and curtain-like dresses to enter Irish dancing contests.
This is possibly meant affectionately, but it doesn’t come across like that.
And the odd thing is that it’s set in the 1980s, when the IRA were bombing England and Irish people were looked on with deep suspicion by most English people, and especially by officialdom of all kinds.
But there’s not a mention of the Troubles.
But it’s all cosy fun, with Niamh getting her family on side to learn to accept Pierre. And trying to get his suave parents to learn to love their raw new daughter-in-law.
Niamh writes a fluffy newspaper column, and Pierre introduces her to his parents by laughing about the time she wrote an article on who gets to sleep on the wet patch after sex.
Her own parents already had to face the horror of her big sister getting pregnant at 17, and going on to become a materfamilias with five (Irish-dancing) daughters.
There are a few guffaw moments in here, and it’s a grand page-turner for the journey.

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