Norton writes another hit
A Keeper — Graham Norton (Hodder and Stoughton, $37.99) reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books
Irish broadcaster Graham Norton is a man of many talents. Known for his ability to tease stories from others, he surprised readers with his funny, sensitive mystery, Holding, in 2016 and is back with A Keeper, his second novel.
Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland from New York after the death of her mother, Patricia. While going through Patricia’s things she finds a package of old letters that seem to offer information about Elizabeth’s father, a man she has never known anything about. Intrigued, Elizabeth starts to ask questions of family members and friends and in the midst of her fledgling investigations finds that she has been left another house in her mother’s will.
On visiting this mystery house Elizabeth begins to unravel the story of her parents’ relationship. Her narrative is mirrored by Patricia’s from 40 years earlier as we hear how she placed a lonely hearts advertisement and met Edward Foley, Elizabeth’s father. Patricia’s story is tragic, dramatic and shocking as Elizabeth’s origins are slowly revealed.
Graham has a gift for story and his tone is light and accessible. The vernacular of his characters conjures the beauty of Ireland and the peculiarities of its people — we hear their voices clearly and this creates believable characters. What at first appears to be a whimsical story of family and romance takes a chilling turn as Patricia wends her innocent way into the countryside in search of happiness. It is in fact the Foley family’s desperate attempts to restore their own happiness that leads the tale down its darkest path.
Graham has created an extremely readable and compelling tale.
The sometimes convenient turning points might be read as over simplified plotting but I’m prepared to forgive this as the book is a jolly good yarn.
There is quite some skill in combining the gossipy Irish lightness of Maeve Binchy and the dark psychology of Stephen King and Graham pulls this off well. A thoroughly entertaining read.