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The Birthday Party by Roisin Meaney

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | .
‘I wish…’ she began, and came to a halt. She wished so much. She wished he was different. She wished their story was different…She wished they loved one another, and depended on one another, and missed each other when they were apart’.
Irish writer Roisin Meaney returns to Roone, the fictional island located off the west coast of Ireland, with her latest novel, The Birthday Party. Described as ‘the spell-binding new summer read from the Number One bestselling author’, it is published by Hachette Ireland.

I read and thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and charm of Roisin Meaney’s last book, The Anniversary, but I must preface this review by stating that I have not read the three books that Roisin Meaney has written, all set on the island of Roone. It resulted in a little confusion as I was trying to figure out the many characters that were introduced in the opening chapters. I had to flip back and check story-lines to fully understand the relationships between all the various folk involved, but eventually it did become clear to me, allowing me to continue with the story.

The inhabitants of Roone are in a state of flux. With the recent and very sudden passing of one of it’s stalwart residents, Hugh, there are many who are still reeling from the grief of his death, in particular, his wife Imelda. Their marriage had taken place later in their lives, with both planning all the wonderful years they would have together but, alas, it wasn’t to be. Before Hugh’s death, they had taken under their wing a troubled young girl, Eve. She had blossomed under their guardianship, but now Imelda is very concerned for her well-being, as Eve seems very bothered about something. Can Imelda get to the root of Eve’s distress?

Meanwhile Laura is carrying a secret, one that doesn’t sit well with her, one that she is very uncomfortable keeping from her husband and family. But Laura has her hands full. With a very busy B&B to run, as well as looking after her small kids, Laura is preparing for the arrival of her stepsister, Tilly, from Australia. Tilly has made the annual pilgrimage to Roone for a number of years, following the discovery that herself and Laura share the same father, famous Irish artist, Luke Potter. This year Tilly has plans that she has been cooking up for a few months and arrives with a buzz of anticipation and excitement. But will Tilly’s dreams come true?

Amidst all the island’s drama, local hotelier, Henry Manning is organising a huge celebration for his 70th birthday, a summer garden party to take place in August. This will be a party for the whole community of Roone, incorporating lots of bunting, champagne, a quartet and of course a speech. Brimming with excitement, Henry is hoping for perfection, a night to be remembered by all the residents of Roone but, as the saying goes, the best laid plans…..

The Birthday Party is very much a book about family relationships and all the associated complications that arise. Roisin Meaney gets into the minds of each character, very much bringing their individual stories to the attention of her readers. Although fictitious, the beauty of the island of Roone is portrayed very vividly, with very apt descriptions of that beautiful part of the world, The Kingdom of Kerry!!

I do feel that I did struggle a little with this book, having no previous experience of Roone, and I also did wonder about the title of the book, as I felt the actual birthday party played a very small role in the overall story. In saying that I do really enjoy Roisin Meaney’s writing and look forward to reading more from her in the future.

The Birthday Party incorporates a number of parallel stories, recounting tales of relationships, grief, parenthood, love, death, siblings and struggling friendships but it is that of the family dynamic that really shines through. Roisin Meaney writes in her own voice giving the book a familiar and authentic feel to it, one I’m sure will appeal to the legion of fans of this bestselling writer, especially those who have a soft spot for the island of Roone. With some very delightful characters, The Birthday Party is a gentle, enjoyable read.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.