Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy? by Rachael English

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Crime/Thriller
Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy? by Rachael English

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy? by Rachael English

Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy? by Rachael English is described as ‘a rollercoaster journey through the rise and fall of four unforgettable friends and bandmates, in a music scene where darkness lurks beneath a veneer of glamour.’

With an opening line in the description of ‘In the early 1980s..’ and a mention of music I knew, beyond doubt, that I was going to lose myself in Rachael English’s latest novel about The Diamonds rock band and the elusive Birdy Troy. I grew up in a household surrounded by vinyls and guitars, as my older brother was a musician. The Diamonds, at the beginning of their career, were dubbed ‘the next U2’, a band that I distinctly remember surprising me, and the huge crowd in attendance, at a free outdoor music festival in Cork on 25th August 1985 when they did an unscheduled set. We were in heaven. I was fourteen years old, and this was the gig that sealed my life-long love of music.

Birdy Troy was a young girl who dreamed of escaping her hometown in Co. Clare. She worked in a local supermarket. But Birdy had ambitions. She was the songwriter and guitarist of The Diamonds, an all-girl rock band, alongside her best friends, Gail, Yvonne, and Loretta. A last-minute gig provided them with the opportunity to get their music in front of a Dublin manager. The girls’ lives changed forever that night. They moved to Dublin and began an extraordinary adventure, which was exhausting but also incredibly exciting. Birdy Troy was more serious about her musical ambition than the rest. Birdy loved the intricacies of the studio work, where perfection was all that mattered, no matter how many takes it took to create the exact note or word in a track.

As their reputation took off, the girls lived a whirlwind existence far removed from their humble beginnings, then, suddenly, disappeared. What happened to The Diamonds? Why did they never reach the trajectory that was expected of them?

Stacey Nash is a podcaster whose life is teetering on the brink. Stacey left a permanent job to follow her dream, freelancing and doing what she loves. But Stacey is in trouble. Her financial situation and personal life are in the doldrums and, without a bit of luck, or a sprinkling of magic, there is the real possibility that Stacey could very soon be homeless.

Stacey’s podcast features has-beens, people who were once well-known and dropped off the radar for various reasons. Popularity is important to Stacey, as the more subscribers she gets, the possibility of advertiser revenue increasing is very real. But Stacey has hit a wall. Her revenue is slowing down, and her recent podcasts have not been as popular as she hoped. A chance stumble upon a story about a girl band, The Diamonds, who were on the up and up in the 1980s piques her interest. She looks up a few articles, speaks to a few contacts and the more she unravels, the more curious she becomes. Stacey, on hearing some of their music, is intrigued. These girls were musicians going places but disappeared without a trace. Stacey decides that the story of The Diamonds could make a very compelling podcast but, as her research soon uncovers, there is so much more buried in the past.

One of the girls, Birdy Troy, really catches Stacey’s attention. Birdy has no digital footprint, and no record exists of what happened to her following the band’s breakup. It’s clear she was very focused and passionate about her music. She was good, really good, but where was she?

Stacey’s investigation takes her on a very unexpected journey and as she slowly peels back the layers of history, the past slowly emerges. Stacey is committed to the truth and to justice but is she right to blow the cobwebs off a secret that has remained hidden for years?

Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy? will appeal to all with a love of the 80s, those glorious years when the floor under your feet pulsed to the bass of a live band, when a Sony Walkman was a dream possession and when perms were cool! If you are of a younger generation then you will be drawn in by the Taylor Jenkins Reid style of storytelling, a cross between the vibe of Daisy Jones & The Six and the dual-time element of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Rachael English has written an engaging and immersive tale with a delightful cast of characters (almost all!!). Rachael said that she was hoping ‘to capture the lives of music-obsessed teenage girls in the 1980s’ and she certainly has. She also put together a class playlist on Spotify, featuring a brilliant selection of artists from Ireland and beyond who were so very much part of those iconic years.

Whatever Happened to Birdy Troy? by Rachael EnglishWhatever Happened to Birdy Troy? is an insightful, at times challenging and exciting story, a must-read for so many different reasons. It’s wonderfully atmospheric and nostalgic with a very relevant, modern twist. Highly recommend!

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

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