• West Cork Literary Festival 2021

The Moon Over Kilmore Quay by Carmel Harrington

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Women’s Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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The Moon Over Kilmore Quay by Carmel Harrington is published with Harper Collins and is described as ‘a heart-warming and emotional family drama’. Carmel Harrington is known for her ability to write stories with a generous heart and gorgeous characters and The Moon Over Kilmore Quay has all that and so much more. Set against the backdrop of Brooklyn, New York and Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, The Moon Over Kilmore Quay is the story of a young woman’s search for answers about her identity and reconciliation.

Bea O’ Connor, born and raised in New York, grew up very much immersed in the Irish community. All her life she has been surrounded by memories and recollections of a country that she herself has never visited. New Year’s Eve 2019, Bea receives an unexpected piece of mail, a letter from a time capsule that she had written in 2003 when she was ten years old. In this letter she referred to her future-self and how she hoped it would all work out but now, through the eyes of a grown up Bea, she starts to see how she has veered off course in many parts of her journey. After an unsettling event, Bea decides to take control of this letter in the hope of understanding the current direction of her life and, perhaps, enact some changes.

Bea has very few memories of her mother who died tragically when Bea was very young. Her father never remarried and Bea grew up cherished by loving grandparents and her uncle but she knew very little about her mother’s family. Her father was vague in answering questions but Bea loves a mystery and decides that the time had come to finally unravel her past.

In parallel to Bea’s story, Carmel Harrington takes the reader back to 1992 in Ireland. Two sisters Lucy and Maeve and their best friend Michelle, aka The Three Amigos, are finishing up in college and decide to take a punt on applying for a US Visa. Completely unexpectedly, Lucy and Maeve get theirs and, after an emotional conversation with their parents, who live and run a pub in Kilmore Quay, both girls pack their bags and arrive excitedly into JFK airport, New York. Clueless as to what was ahead of them, the girls settled into their accommodation, finding work where available. Maeve completely embraced the essence of the New York vibe but for Lucy it was a more challenging experience. She craved home and missed the little things, the familiar sights and sounds of Kilmore Quay. But slowly, bit by bit, Lucy began to mellow into this mad new life-changing experience and, for a while life was good, exciting, fun, just what they had imagined. But then….

The Moon Over Kilmore Quay was very possibly THE MOST surprising book I have read over lockdown. I literally dropped the book in total shock at one point. Hankies, and lots of them, at the ready folks and that’s all I am saying on that.

What I can say is that The Moon Over Kilmore Quay is a glorious, heart-wrenching, expressive story about an impassioned young woman with hopes and dreams, who goes on an extraordinary adventure in search of her truth. Carmel Harrington states in the Reader’s Note at the back of the book that she always wanted ‘to write a story with immigration at its heart….in particular the lives of first- and second-generation immigrants’ and this idea inspired her to pack her bags, pre-Covid, and board a plane to New York. While there she visited Queens and Brooklyn, meeting the Irish community and listening to the stories they had to tell. Combining this research with her own personal knowledge of Wexford, where she lives, Carmel has created a truly authentic and compelling story, one that completely captivates the reader.

The Moon Over Kilmore Quay left me an emotional wreck but I was very happy to embrace those emotions after being immersed in such a beautiful and engaging tale. This is a book about family and friendship, about love and about knowing where you come from, about forgiveness and about holding on tightly to the people you cherish most. A book with ALL the feels, The Moon Over Kilmore Quay is a truly beautiful novel, one to lose yourself completely in, a book to curl up with.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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