I'm slowing down on these book reviews, because, happily, I'm doing more of my own writing on Book Two, Murder on the Beach.
But I'm very pleased to report that I loved Áine Greaney's new book, Dance Lessons. Áine (pronounced 'AHN-ya') is Irish and lives in nearby Newburyport. I have heard about her for years but never made the space to read her earlier book, The Big House, or her short story collection, The Sheepbreeders Dance and Other Stories.
In Dance Lessons, Ellen Boisvert, the young American widow of an Irish man she met in Boston visits her late husband's former village. She grows to know and then take care of Fintan's ailing mother, Jo. Along the way Ellen uncovers the mystery of why he had told her he was an orphan and the story not only of his difficult past but that of his troubled mother and her family.
Áine read from Dance Lessons recently at the Book Nook in Ipswich and talked about life in Ireland. She even showed us a map of the area, and during the reading gave a rendition of a bit of song in the text in a lovely voice. Áine, like most of the characters in the book, grew up in a village in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. She mentioned that she had to do little research, because she knew the setting so well. It showed in the richness of description and the details of the weather and landscape, both geographical and emotional. The book is beautifully written and the story hard to put down.
She, like me and many authors, writes around the edges of her day job. I asked her how she manages that and was very pleased when she announced that her next publication will be Writer with a Day Job, which details coping strategies and tips for those of us trying to coordinate those two factions of our lives. She interviews nearly a dozen successful writers around the country who have done a good job of integration work-for-pay and publish-fiction-for-satisfaction/fame/pay (whatever it might be). I can't wait to read it.
Do you like Irish-themed fiction? Dance Lessons is for you. Do you want deeply developed characters, a mystery, some finely drawn history? Get the book and read it. And I daresay if you write the author with questions, she'll answer them. She's a really nice person.