Nor­ton writes an­other hit

Napier Courier - - NEWS -

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.

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