My Throwback Thursday choice this week was published in March 2015 and written by Claire Fullerton.
The story revolves around Hailey, an American with celtic roots, and is told from her perspective. She came to Ireland on holiday and stayed on, working as part of a team of four, for the Galway Music Centre, looking for, and helping, aspiring musicians. Hailey has settled into the community and is getting used to the laid back approach, differences in lifestyle and the small town feel where everyone knows everyone else’s business. She’s made good friends, most notably Shannon who also works at the music centre, and Mick and Gabrielle, her neighbours who ‘lived deep in the bog’ behind her cottage.
To my surprise, it only took Mick about five minutes to invite me to “call out” for a cup of tea the following day. In Ireland, people are always ‘calling out,” which shouldn’t be confused with either a planned arrangement or just showing up, because calling out lays somewhere between, in the realm of “I’ll get there when I get there.”
Don’t put a time on it, Mick replied, furrowing his brow. “Come when it suits you.”
When Hailey meets the darkly handsome Liam Hennessy, the contrast is even more apparent. Liam is a musician, not one for straight talking or letting his feelings be known when it comes to love or commitment. Hailey is self-confident and natural in her relationships and comfortable with herself. They are complete opposites and Hailey’s frustration with Liam’s awkward internal conflict and the misunderstandings it causes, is delivered extremely well. Liam is unable to take the relationship further or completely withdraw from it. Hailey is very attracted to him but struggles to interpret or understand Liam’s behaviour.
Written from Hailey’s point of view, the narrative makes following her life in Ireland intimate and interesting. I like the fact the romance is convoluted, it kept me guessing, and it’s Hailey who has the strength of character against Liam’s capriciousness and confusion. Each of the very well defined and unique characters have a distinct and individual voice and personality, they are very realistic. I love the mysticism and folklore threaded throughout and the way music is so necessary and important in Irish culture.
There’s a road in Spiddal that leads down to the sea. It’s lonesome as it meanders between an ancient Catholic church and miles of green, rolling fields separated into geometric prisms by gray stone walls. The gravel on its path is scattered from wind and rain and years of neglect; it is part of the ambience of Spiddal, part of its history. At the end of the road is the Spiddal Pier. There is no sign that would indicate this, but it’s common knowledge – like a lot of things on the western coast of Ireland.
The story is well crafted, beautifully phrased and woven together with rich descriptions of the Irish landscape, particularly Connemara and Galway City, which invoke strong images and atmosphere of the country and it’s people. Claire Fullerton’s authentic observations and detailing give a real sense of this beautiful place and make the book a delight to read.
About the Book
While on sabbatical from her job in the Los Angeles record business, twenty-five-year old Hailey Crossan takes a trip to the west coast of Ireland , where she walks into the Galway Music Center and is offered a job too good to turn down. Friendships are formed quickly with her fellow, Irish employees, and Hailey lives thirteen miles “up the road” in the wind-swept, seaside area of Connemara, a land steeped in traditional music, where Irish is the first language.
When Hailey meets a famous local musician named Liam Hennessey, a confusing relationship begins, which Hailey thinks may be the result of differing cultures, for Liam is married to the music, and although curious about Hailey, won’t come closer nor completely go away. And so begins the push and pull of a relationship Hailey struggles to decipher as a stranger in a strange, and Hailey comes to love a land and its people with more heart and soul than she ever imagined, during a year that becomes the most pivotal of her life.
Her new job comes with one major complication—Liam Hennessey. He’s a famous Irish musician whose entire live has revolved around performing. And Hailey falls in love with him. Although Liam’s not so sure love is in the cards for him, he’s not willing to push her away completely.
And so begins Hailey’s journey to a colorful land that changes her life, unites her with friends more colorful than the Irish landscape, and gives her a chance at happiness she’s never found before.