The Lodgers by Eithne Shortall | Book Reviews | General Fiction | Women’s Fiction
The Lodgers by Eithne Shortall

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

The Lodgers by Eithne Shortall

The Lodgers by Eithne Shortall is published with Corvus and is described as ‘an uplifting and heart-warming tale of friendship, community and a mystery package…’

Set primarily in the village of Howth, north of Dublin city, The Lodgers explores the blossoming relationship between three unexpected housemates and how they come to find solace in each other’s company. Tessa is 69-years-old and has lived a very independent life to date. She lives alone following the death of her husband. Her son, Senan, lives not too far away. He is married to Audrey and they have a teenage son, Otis. Senan is a school principal. Tessa’s daughter Bea inexplicably disappeared without a trace ten years ago. leaving a huge gap in her life but volunteering at the local community centre has given Tessa an outlet over the years. Following a fall, Tessa is struggling. Rattling around on her own in the big family home causes much concern for Senan. He thinks the house is too big for Tessa and that she should sell up. But Tessa is firm in her decision. Her home is not for sale.

Tessa has been in denial and, with a little nudge from a close friend, she comes to realise that she does need a helping hand. Managing alone has been a struggle but her stubborn nature led her to believe that she was doing ok, until now. Tessa is a community minded person, an activist and a strong believer in social equality. With the homeless crisis playing on her mind, Tessa makes a decision to invite a lodger into her house. The chosen applicant could give her a helping hand around the place in return for a roof over their head.

Conn through chance sees Tessa’s notice in the community centre. Conn’s life is in turmoil. With his younger brother dead, Conn suffers terrible guilt and is trying to amend his ways. Tessa’s generous offer might just provide him with a solution, a way through the darkness in his mind. But he has unanticipated competition.

When Conn arrives at the house he crosses paths with Chloe. Chloe is in disarray. Her life has been challenging and Chloe needs to break away. As a courier, her job requires her to deliver parcels and, as luck would have it, she arrived at Tessa’s to make a delivery on the day of the viewing. Chloe’s appearance puts a little friction into the situation, as she becomes a rival to Conn.

Tessa makes a decision to allow both stay but it’s not without its problems. Conn and Chloe do not see eye-to-eye and the atmosphere between the two of them is palpable. Chloe doesn’t trust Conn and is concerned as to who and what he is. Could he be a drug dealer? Where does he go to late every night?

As the chapters progress, we are provided with snippets of background information about Conn, Chloe and Tessa. Three strangers thrown together in unusual circumstances who somehow manage to communicate and, overtime, develop an unexpected relationship.

Eithne Shortall writes character-driven stories, giving each individual very distinct quirks and personality. There is always at least one identifiable character for every reader, one you can compare with and visualise quite easily. When I read It Could Never Happen Here by Eithne Shortall I immediately warmed to the style and the storyline. There is an understanding of human nature, a sense that she really knows what she is talking about alongside a very refreshing approach. In The Lodgers, Tessa’s altruism is very much reflective of society today, where some folk have offered refuge to immigrants in need. The loss of community and that feeling of isolation are unfortunately all too common in our world today and Eithne Shortall creates a beautiful alternative of what can happen if we all just look up and see what is happening around us.

The Lodgers by Eithne ShortallThere are moments of raw heartbreak, pain and grief but there is also compassion and sensitivity throughout. The Lodgers is an uplifting and engaging novel that will leave every reader with a much needed smile on their face.

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

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