“Dublin in the Rain”
A Novel by Andrew Critchley
372 pg. ct.
ISBN 13: 9781909878150
Published January 30th 2014 by New Generation Publishing (first published November 11th 2013)
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I want to thank Andrew for sending me a copy of Dublin in the Rain. As this book was what inspired me to post the first review I’ve ever done, I thought it only fitting to feature it first on my new library page! The following is a derivation of that review.
On a rainy day in Dublin, during the spring of 1947, a tragic accident brought devastation to those involved. As the subsequent years pass, unable to come to terms with the accident, the survivors set the path for a deeply troubled future for each generation that followed.
Jonathan Melton had a traumatic childhood in which he ended up in foster care, but when he meets the wild, willful, sexually experienced and free spirited Sophia at university, everything changes. At first inept with women, Jonathan’s complex relationship with Sophia evolves from a one-way obsession into a genuine love and shared passion, as the relationship brings happiness, romance and joy to both their lives that neither thought was ever possible. [continued on Goodreads]
From the very beginning, Dublin in the Rain made a inescapable grab at my heart. The prologue sets the stage for immersion into an array of emotions, ranging from the blossoming of young love and the heart-rending grief of the loss of all one holds dear, to learning to survive a childhood of cold indifference after such a loss.
I was out of breath after only this first foreshadowing of things to come!
Trying to anticipate the relation between the horrific incidents of the past, as outlined in the prologue, and the characters’ lives, was completely aggravating in the most delicious way!
A glimpse here, a tidbit there or a tantalizing clue as to the “butterfly affect” of that past, so deftly woven into the fabric of the story, made sure that I wouldn’t put it down until the very end.
Our protagonist, Jonathan Melton, began his idyllic life in the perfect, love filled home, with parents who were very much in love. However, his father suffered emotional incapacitation and resultant bouts of depression and drinking. The eventual outcome was, of course, a broken marriage, with Jonathan remaining in the custody of his father.
It is during this interim that Jonathan discovers his mother has “gone on with her life” and begun a relationship with someone else. This is also the first time the reader is shown a hint of how past and present are connected, with the introduction of Annie, the housekeeper who befriended him for a time.
Young Jonathan resonates with me as, not unlike a million other people in this day and age, I recognize the piteous state of mind that befalls the child of a broken home. True to form, Jonathan is vulnerable at this age, because of his love for both of his parents. It is obvious that he wants nothing more than for them to set aside their differences, but alas, this will never be forthcoming. Under his father’s influence and his own pain for his mother’s absence, Jonathan ‘breaks’ and turns against his mother.
The rift is great. So great that, when his father dies (a suicide, though it is not admitted until later), Jonathan indicates to his mother that going to live with her is the most distasteful thing he can contemplate. The family of his closest mate, David, having offered to take him in brings him balance back into his childhood and once again he is in the bosom of a loving family.
Jonathan and David attend University together and from here the story of Jonathan’s life takes many twists, turns and backward loops. He “becomes a man” then, eventually, falls in love…many sweet whimsical moments there with his lady love, Sophia!
But Jonathan seems doomed to follow the dysfunctional footsteps of his father. His family history is bearing down on him and repeating the burden of loss and disillusionment, stubborn self-centredness and self-destruction.
There is one character who is really only a fleeting presence: Maoliosa/Melissa who, for the tiniest space of time that she is actually in Jonathan’s life, is the most key presence of all, in bringing the threads of past, present and future together.
And then our author has the utter nerve to make us really, really like her and then just “disappear” her and leave us hanging!!
There are a few intimate scenes in this book, but while I’m not one who enjoys reading graphic descriptions of intimacy, even in the relatively benign instance of the sweetest consummation of marriage, there was forewarning enough that I was able to slip past them with never a gasp! Even though these instances themselves were integral to the story, their description was not so lengthy that sliding over those few paragraphs caused one to miss the truly important parts of the story.
Andrew Critchley did a splendid job of developing the characters in this book. Any one of their stories could apply to people any of us have known throughout life. None are without distinction; even the least characters who breezed blithely through the story, elicited some sort of opinion.
I would like to thank the author for giving me this wonderful opportunity to read his debut novel. I also read it aloud to my husband, outside and, well, our neighbours were sitting on their porch as well and they, too, were “all up in the story” as I read!!
I highly recommend Dublin in the Rain, for all the reasons others have stated in other reviews, as well as my own.
Only, man or woman, be sure to have a handkerchief on hand!