Author: Carmel Harrington
Published: May 2021 by HarperCollins
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Family
Brooklyn, New York,
Bea has grown up in the heart of the Irish community, always hearing stories of home. When she discovers a letter from her younger self, written years before, it sends her deep into her own family history.
Kilmore Quay, Ireland.
Years earlier, Lucy Mernagh leaves her much-loved home and family in search of the New York dream. The Big Apple is a world away from the quiet village she grew up in, and the longing for home aches within her.
Bea O’Connor, one of the second generation of Irish immigrants born in Brooklyn, always felt that Ireland was a large part of her heritage and who she was. She’d grown up listening to the nostalgic stories told by her grandparents and dreamed of Ireland and visiting there one day. She’s torn between her love of New York and the call of Ireland, not knowing quite where she belongs.
Everything changed when Bea received the letter she’d written to her future self for a school assignment. The letters from each member of the class had been held in a time capsule by the teacher and, as promised, were sent out when the students reached a certain age.
The letter awakened a compulsion to find out more about her mother, who died when Bea was a small child, and also caused her to assess her life to date and make some much needed adjustments in her thinking in order to mend some fences. She longed to know more about the Irish side of her family and where they came from. Her work allowed her the perfect opportunity.
The story is split into two timelines — Bea in present day New York, feeling adrift after the break up with the love of her life, and Lucy in Ireland in 1990s. Lucy, her sister Maeve and their best friend Michelle had applied for three of the allotted forty eight thousand American visas.
Three letters sat on the small square pine table in our kitchenette, my eyes focussed on the one addressed to me, Ms Lucy Mernagh.
I looked at my sister Maeve and best friend Michelle. Their faces mirrored mine. We knew that the contents of these letters could be life-changing.
I enjoyed following Bea’s and Lucy’s stories very much while getting to grips with the family dynamics, although I didn’t see the twists coming. Characters are depicted sympathetically and convincingly, the thoughts, emotions and uncertainties of leaving home to start a new life so far away are captured very realistically. Bea was a great character and I loved the friendship between her and her two best friends.
Both locations were described so beautifully and evocatively giving a real sense of place, making it easy to visualise the settings.
The Moon Over Kilmore Quay kept me invested in the story and the outcome for the characters from the start. It incorporates family, the love and support of friends, joy, sadness, long buried secrets and a moving and unpredictable conclusion which I wasn’t expecting at all.
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