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Born & Bred by Peter Murphy

Source: Story Plant
Paperback, 395 pages
On Amazon, on Kobo

Born & Bred by Peter Murphy set in 1970s Ireland is a Boyle family saga.  Like many families, there are those members who have secrets, those that are well loved, and those who are tolerated because of their connection with someone revered in the family history.  Danny Boyle, a young teen who is growing up at his grandmother’s knee, is caught in the middle of God and religion and his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s mental illness.  He’s found solace in religion, but as he grows up and is pulled into drugs and the seedier side of Ireland, he’s spiraling so fast, that he barely sees everything as it whizzes past his bleary eyes.

“Danny had thought about it for a moment but he couldn’t say no.  He had been at the edge of everything that happened for so long.  Now he was getting a chance to be connected — to be one of those guys that everybody spoke about in whispers.  Sure it was a bit risky but he could use the money and, besides, no one would ever suspect him.  Most people felt sorry for him and the rest thought he was a bit of a spaz.”  (page 3 ARC)

He wishes for his mother’s return, but when he gets his wish, behind-the-scenes events lead to the loss of his one anchor in his life.  While many people in town sympathize and feel sorry for him, they also are not surprised when he gets in trouble.  There are few that believe him incapable of murder after a “pagan-like” dance in church, but there are some who are behind him and pulling for his reformation.  Murphy is an accomplished story-teller shifting between points of view to round out the story that is Danny Boyle’s life in Ireland, though there are moments toward that end that draw out the suspense a little too much.

Born & Bred by Peter Murphy raises questions about whether family genetics, upbringing, or environment can lead us to the actions we take or whether there is free will at all when God has a plan for us all.  Murphy’s setting and characters bring to life 1970s Ireland in a way that is disturbing, realistic, and harsh, but those realities help to shape Danny.  As the first book in a series, Murphy has created a lasting story with great potential in future installments.

About the Author:

Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family was deported to Dublin, the Strumpet City.

Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for ‘The Wine and Gold’. He also played football (soccer) in secret!

After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff; Paddy, Tommy and Sean.

Murphy financed his education by working summers on the buildings sites of London in such places as Cricklewood, Camden Town and Kilburn.

Murphy also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world. But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while – thirty years ago. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to University, Murphy answered the long ignored internal voice and began to write.

I’ve also reviewed:

Lagan Love

1st book for the Ireland Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

16th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #261

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has gone through a few incarnations from a permanent home with Marcia to a tour of other blogs.

Now, it has its own permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. The Other Half by Sarah Rayner, which came unexpectedly from St. Martin’s Press.

Maggie appears to have it all.  She’s beautiful, a talented writer, and has a gorgeous husband. But something’s not quite right: his job as a magazine publisher is keeping him in the city until late most evenings, and some nights he doesn’t come home at all…

Told in the alternating voices of the mistress and the wife, this story of an affair is a sharp, seductive take on modern love.

Who, if anyone, comes out unscathed?

2.  Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer for a TLC Book Tour in May.

“Incendiary Girls” explores our baser instincts with vivid imagination and humor. In these stories, our bodies become strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transformation. In “Fundamental Laws of Nature,” a doctor considers her legacy, both good and bad, when she discovers that her mother has been reincarnated as a thoroughbred mare. In the title story, a mischievous angel chronicles the remarkable life of a girl just beyond death’s reach.

In Scheer’s hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life. When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity? Scheer’s stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, choking, heartbreaking moment.

3. Born and Bred by Peter Murphy from Story Plant for review in May.

Danny Boyle was a born angel.

At least that’s what his granny used to say, and she should know she raised him after his parents proved incapable. When she becomes ill, Danny is reunited with his parents but they do not get to live happily ever after, as the ghosts of the past haunt their days. And when the old woman dies, all of her secrets come to light and shatter everything Danny believes in.

In the turmoil of 1970’s Ireland, an alienated Danny gets into drugs and is involved in a gangland killing. Duped by the killers into leaving his prints on the gun, Danny needs all the help his friends and family can muster. Calling in favors from bishops and priests, police and paramilitaries, God and the devil, the living and the dead, they do all that they can. But even that might not be enough.

What did you receive?

Lagan Love by Peter Murphy

Lagan Love by Peter Murphy is a dense novel steeped in Irish lore and angst.  Janice, a Canadian, is a young student at the famed Trinity in Dublin, and she is easily swept up in the tumult that clings to the brooding poet Aiden.  She’s a student who dreams of painting and traveling the world, and at one point dreams of her life with Aiden as the famous poet and painter duo.  Is Aiden a struggling poet who has sold his soul for a few hundred dollars and a published collection, or is he the next Seamus Heaney?

His first collection of poems is published with the help of Gwen/Bridey, with whom he’s sleeping and who is married.  Aiden thinks that by introducing Gwen and Janice, he can ensure Janice’s paintings get noticed and that his affair with Gwen remains a secret because publicly Janice will be seen as his muse/girlfriend.  It’s not just Gwen, Aiden, and Janice, but Sinead as well who are searching.  Searching for love or the darknesss within the light and vice versa.

“The dawn sprinkled the suburbs with golden promise that paled in the older parts of town, down streets broad and narrow to the docklands where everything was just plain and ordinary.  Another brave new world beckoned, but Dublin was dubious — too often hope had been trampled down by foreign armies or strangled in dark alleys by the shadows of avarice and graft.”  (page 9)

There are a number of references to ghosts, love, revolution, and even a succubus, which readers will have to wade through, discern the meaning of, and tackle before they can care about these characters with any real depth.  Some cliched images and language are used throughout the novel, but those should not detract from the picture Murphy creates with his words.  However, the density of the narration and metaphors does become too heavy, distancing the reader from the characters and possibly even causing them to step away from the book for a while.  Beyond the density of the narration, there are several moments in the novel where the reader will be distracted by transitions between scenes and characters that are muddied, making it a puzzle readers must solve before they can delve back into the story (i.e. like the aftermath of one fight between Sinead and Janice — where readers may have a difficult time determining which character is in the next scene).

“His mind was a mess of disorganized verses piled on top of each other.  Some were orphans and would wither, but others lingered defiantly, like stones in his shoes.  They were the ones he found the time to polish.  But even some of them were destined to irrelevance.” (page 20)

Like the love song, “My Lagan Love,” the novel is a bumpy ride but with an undercurrent of devotion to love and country.  Murphy explores not only love and inspiration, but what it means to be an artist, especially an artist hungry for their voice to be heard.  What is an artist willing to give up or what kind of compromises are they willing to make?  He answers these questions, but also leaves a bit of mystery behind for the reader to examine and unravel.  Lagan Love is a complex as love itself, particularly when artists and simply men and women are competing for the affections of the same person — even if only to be in control.  Murphy’s style is as complex as his characters, but readers will be absorbed in the forlorn myths and legends created and expounded upon.

About the Author:

Peter Murphy was raised in Dublin, in a house full of books.  After a few years studying life in Grogan’s, he wandered through the cities of Europe before setting out for Canada, for a while, and has been there ever since, raising a family.  Lagan Love is his first novel.

 

This is my 1st book for the Ireland Reading Challenge.

 

 

This is my 29th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.