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Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

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Okay, this was another audiobook which I listened to over a few long runs. I mention this because I find that books I can quite like as audiobooks are often books that I know I wouldn’t enjoy if I read them as a physical book and this is one of those. The reason is because when running, I want something to divert me and keep me occupied while exercising. When I’m reading a physical book I want it immerse myself in it; it’s not a diversion from something else I’m doing. For this reason I can listen to chick-lit audiobooks but I rarely actually read one. This was narrated by Gerri Halligan, who did a good job, although I did find her American accent slightly questionable (but not enough to annoy me).

The story is narrated in alternate chapters by three characters…

Gemma Hogan is still smarting from her ex-boyfriend Anton falling in love with her ex-friend Lily. Life only gets more complicated for her when her father leaves her mother after 35 years of marriage, causing her mother to go to pieces. Gemma finds herself having to babysit her mother at the age of 32.

Lily is blissfully happy with Anton and their daughter Emer, but she can’t help feeling guilty about Gemma, and is convinced that karma will catch up with her and Anton at some point. She writes a book which is a runaway success, but the publishing world is a fickle business.

Jojo is the literary agent who takes on Lily as a client. Jojo is a strong independent and successful woman – who just happens to be in a relationship with her married boss. She is in a cutthroat business and has a complicated love life. Will her career ambitions and her clandestine romance clash?

I found the story somewhat diverting and it did hold my attention for the most part (it seemed to drift along aimlessly for a little while in the middle, and I think the book would have been more effective if it had been shorter). There’s no doubt that Marian Keyes can write humour very well; however for me the main problem was that I didn’t like many of the characters. Gemma was my favourite out of the main three. She was funny and hapless but obviously intelligent. She was also, in my opinion, far too good for Anton and wasted way too much time feeling sad about him.

I didn’t really like Jojo or her boss Mark. I didn’t like that he was cheating on his perfectly lovely wife, and treated his children like a liability that stopped him from having fun with his bit on the side. I didn’t like that Jojo was complicit in that deception. She was portrayed as a tough woman who takes no s**t, but she was happy to wait around for her cheating boyfriend to let her down time after time.

And Lily!! Don’t get me started. She was supposed to be sweet and sensitive but she came across as such a wet weekend. I felt like shaking her and telling her to get a bloody grip. And Anton just annoyed the heck out of me. Feckless with money and generally  irresponsible, he was full of pipe dreams, which Lily was expected to finance. I kept wanting her to find a backbone and chuck him out.

With all that said, there were things about this book that I enjoyed; I preferred the first third, which featured Gemma’s job a lot more than later, and there was a side character (Johnny) who I enjoyed hearing about.

I remember reading some of Marian Keyes’ other books many years ago – I loved them. This one was not as enjoyable, but whether that’s because of the book or because of my changing tastes, I’m not sure. I probably would give another book of hers a go, as it was pretty undemanding, but it wouldn’t be top of my list.

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This Irish film based loosely on Kevin Power’s book Bad Day in Blackrock, shows teenager Kevin, who lives a fairly typical teenage life with his group of friends, when a random act of violence inspired by jealousy over his girlfriend, changes all of their lives. He is forced to question his conscience and live with the consequences of his actions.

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Year of release: 2012

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Kevin Power (book), Malcolm Campbell

Main cast: Jack Reynor, Gavin Drea, Patrick Gibson, Sam Keeley, Roisin Murphy, Lars Mikkelsen

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Genre: Drama

Highlights: The brooding atmosphere, clever use of silence

Lowlights: None really but this is not a film to watch if you are in need of being cheered up!

Overall: Not for everyone, as for large portions of the film not much actually happens. I like how it viewed the effect of a violent act on the perpetrator rather than on the victims. It’s bleak but strangely compelling viewing

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After four years of dating with no proposal, Anna (Amy Adams) is fed up of waiting. So when boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) is working in Dublin during Leap Year, she decides to take advantage of an old tradition and travel from Boston to Ireland to propose. But the plane gets diverted and she has to rely on surly Irishman Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her to Dublin. Although they detest each other on sight, she needs the transport and he needs the money, and well…you can probably guess the rest…

Okay, so lets be honest – the ending of this film is pretty predictable. You only really need to read the synopsis to guess how things turn out, and that is usually the case with romantic comedies. But in this case, the journey – both for the characters and the viewers – is so much fun that you just don’t care. Personally I loved this movie. I thought it was genuinely funny – there’s lots of slapstick humour and physical comedy – and there was genuine chemistry between the two main stars. I’ve read other reviews of this film and it does seem to be something of a Marmite movie, where people either love or hate it, and I definitely fall into the love territory. The comedy moments were genuinely comedic and the romance scenes were genuinely romantic. Amy Adams is adorable as Anna, in a role that could have just been plain annoying but in which she injected enough sympathy to make us actually like this young woman. Matthew Goode was also excellent as Declan – his accent slipped a couple of times, but only a couple.

If you like rom-coms, I would highly recommend this film. Give it a go, I doubt you will be disappointed.

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Year of release: 2010

Director: Anand Tucker

Writers: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont

Main cast: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott

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The psychiatric hospital in Roscommon, Ireland is due to be shut down, and it is the task of Doctor William Grene to assess all the patients in order to see if they can be released back into the community, or if they will have to go to the new hospital when it is built.  He becomes preoccupied with trying to uncover the history of a 100 year old patient, Roseanne McNulty, and with trying to determine the circumstances that led to her being put into the hospital in the first place.  He is one of two narrators of the story, and in giving his account of events, he not only uncovers the secrets of Roseanne’s past, but also talks about difficulties in his own life and marriage.

Roseanne, who has spent over half of her life in the institution chronicles her life, from her childhood with her beloved father, and then the marriage which she believed would bring her happiness, despite the fact that she was a Presbyterian and married into a Catholic family, who were largely unwelcoming to her.  As the book covers the 1920s and 1930s extensively, she talks about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the impact it had both on herself, the lives of the people around her and the country as a whole.

I’m not really sure what I thought of this book, and I don’t even know if I really enjoyed it or not.  I was initially ambivalent towards both narrators, but while I warmed up to Roseanne and ended up feeling for her, I never felt able to like Doctor Grene.  For a man who was entrusted with the care of others, he seemed far too wrapped up in his own worries and troubles, and often seemed to use 20 words when one would do.  (Put another way, he was not nearly as interesting a character as he could have been.) Roseanne’s use of grammar also grated on me somewhat – her descriptions seemed clunky at times, which made reading it slightly laborious.  I don’t think this was the fault of the author of the book, rather it was a trait of the character he created.

The story itself was interesting enough, but I felt that it could have been shortened and would have benefitted from some editing  I had little interest in Doctor Grene’s marital woes and didn’t feel that they added anything to the book.

There was a twist at the end, which I did work out (but not too far before it was revealed), which I felt was just slightly too unbelievable, but nonetheless it did tie things up fairly neatly.

There have been many extremely favourable reviews of this book, and my opinion places me in the minority in that I found it slightly disappointing.  I wouldn’t want to put anyone else off reading it, but it wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed.

 

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