An affecting and well-researched depiction of the political and social strife of Northern Ireland in the winter of 1979.
November 1979, the height of Northern Irelands Troubles. Kathleen Morans son Sean has just been transferred to the hypersecure H-block in Belfasts notorious Maze prison, where he soon emerges as a young but important force in the extreme protest, known as the Blanket, that political prisoners are staging there. John Dunn is also newly arrived at the prison, having taken on the job of guarda brutal but effective way to support a house and a girlfriend, the domestic dream.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, no ones dreams go untroubled. As rumors of a hunger strike begin to circulate, Louise Deans pitch-perfect novel places two parents, two sons, and two enemies on a collision course that ends in a surprising and deeply resonant climax.
When the soldiers came the time before, the father went off with them. He had the same name as his son, so he went in his place. After a few days he was released. Their son was far away by then, down south.
This time the son was in prison and they didnt want the father. So what could the father do, except stand in the front room, in his underpants, hands in the sagging pockets of his cardigan, watching the soldiers moving back and forth between the front and back doors of his home.
He was trying to think of something to say. His children and his wife were sat about in their nightclothes; they werent looking at him.
Yous think you know it all, was what hed told them up at Castlereagh, the interrogation centre, when theyd come to realize their mistake. The first day theyd had him hands against the wall, legs apart, and when his knees weakened theyd shouted at him or kicked him. Hed not had anything he could tell them. Nor had...
Set against the real-life events of the period, the two primary story-lines never fully meet; instead they contrast each other, grimly showing the futility of the many wasted lives and the day-to-day realities of life for the everyday people on the front line, entrenched in their opinions but far removed from the political decision making process.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
A Short History of Northern Ireland (map)
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