As Wandering In Exile, the second book in the Life & Times trilogy, goes out to meet the world, I wanted to mark the event with a few comments.
This is my third published work and while it never gets old, nothing can match the feel of the very first time—in this and many other things. Lagan Love will always be my wayward child of a book.
It was very different in that it was my humble homage to the side of Dublin I was most fond of—the literariness of the place. Back then, the pubs that I hung around in—callow youth that I was—were places where the giants of Irish writing had been and were still remembered and revered as the cultural pop stars that they were. Greats who were so very, very mortal too, even while shrouded in mythology.
In Born & Bred, I wanted to look at something very different but in many ways no less shrouded in mythology. Family with it ties and restraints.
Family has been described as the warm nest of love and nurturing by some, and a stinking cesspool of shared neurosis by others. My own experience—and my observations of others—suggest that while the experience of family can be one or the other, more often family is a mixture of both to greater or lesser degrees.
Now I’m not so cynical but I do strive for honest understanding as much as I can.
Family can be very caring and forgiving but can also be the breeding ground for delusion and denial. This was Danny Boyle’s experience when, as a young lad, he was raised to believe in something that he could never reconcile with the world he grew up in.
Perhaps that was because at the end of the day it is what we do that counts more than what we say and nowhere is this more obvious than in the core business of family—the raising of children.
Case in point being that Danny was raised in a pious household by a grandmother whose celebrated and admired husband had taken part in the armed conflict that liberated the land. Small wonder then that Danny should end up holding a gun.
The Ireland that he and I grew up in, like many other places, celebrated the righteousness that is the witch’s brew we concoct when we mix matters of Church and State while also endorsing those who would go out and kill for the cause. And for that sin, some of Danny’s friends, and many others who were far more real, paid with lives.
While much of Born & Bred deals with the ramifications of family and legacy, Wandering In Exile is about the actualities of getting on with life. Danny survives his brush with fate and begins a new life in Canada and when Deirdre joins him they do what so many of us have done—start a family of their own. (Oh, if only we knew then what we know now.)
Now I won’t spoil the read on you but suffice to say that raising a family far from kith and kin presents its own myriad of problems. And like many of us, Danny and Deirdre set out to raise the children better than their parents had which I hope might draw a smile from those readers that are grandparents.
Life, as we live it today, can be very confusing and tiresome. Struggling to balance the demands of our working lives against the incessantness of young children leaves most of us so drained that bedtime cannot come soon enough. But we get through it all somehow.
In the case of Danny and Deirdre, it is at a cost but you, the reader, can decide if it was worth it.
I have my own opinions which are expounded upon in the last book, All Roads, which deals with consequences, personal and universal.
And if you do have a read for yourself, drop me a line and let me know what you think.
Peter Murphy is the author of Born & Bred and Lagan Love. His new novel Wandering in Exile is out today.