Author: Carmel Harrington
Performed by Aoife McMahon
Published: HarperCollins and released on Audible in 2017
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Family, Abuse
On a leafy suburban street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all. Next door, at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.
Neighbours Rea and Stella couldn’t be more different and the public perception of them couldn’t be more wrong. They were both suffering in silence. To all outward appearances, Stella had a perfect life with her handsome husband, Matt, but the reality was quite different. Stella was trapped. She’d fallen in love with the wrong man and had no-one to turn to.
Rea was in a prison of a different kind, suffering from agoraphobia and unable to take a step outside her house. Sometime she could hear the yelling and crashing coming from next door and that night was no different. She did the only thing she could and called the Gardaí as she had done before, but yet again to no avail. They always seemed to get nowhere and left after a short while.
There they were, the boys in blue. Although she didn’t believe in any God, she still found herself praying that the woman was okay. Rea didn’t even know her name. Wasn’t that the craziest thing? They’d moved in next door nearly a year ago and managed to avoid any real interactions with her or anyone else on the road. Okay, she wasn’t that sociable herself these days, but still. It was strange that nobody knew anything about them.
Then fate took a hand and an initially short but crucial contact was made between the two women, and gradually they became firm friends. Interwoven between Stella’s and Rea’s stories is that of teenager Skye and her family as, despite the setbacks, they manage to eventually save enough money for their long awaited dream holiday.
The Woman at 72 Derry Lane is an emotional roller coaster. It’s a story which encompasses abuse, love, loss, tragedy, kindness and is ultimately optimistic. The characters are ones I couldn’t help but root for, and are depicted wonderfully well and realistically. Although I did get frustrated with Stella sometimes, it’s impossible to know how a person would cope in a similar situation. The chapters covering the real life event are devastatingly vivid and harrowing.
I chose to listen to this book after reading The Moon Over Kilmore Bay, which I really enjoyed, and because Aoife McMahon’s narrations are always excellent. This one didn’t disappoint. She really brought the characters to life, although the subject matter doesn’t always make for easy listening. It took me a long while to even begin to guess how the stories were connected, almost up to the reveal. A large part of the book is about friendship and family and how important they are. How they give us support and strength. A thought provoking and emotionally uplifting story.
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Carmel Harrington is from Co. Wexford, where she lives with her husband, her children and their rescue dog, George Bailey. An Irish Times bestseller and regular panellist on radio and TV, her warm and emotional storytelling has captured the hearts of readers worldwide. Her books have been translated into nine languages and have sold hundreds of thousands worldwide.
Carmel’s novels have been shortlisted for an Irish Book Award in 2016 & 2017 and her debut won Kindle Book of the Year and Romantic eBook of the Year in 2013. Her ninth novel, The Moon Over Kilmore Quay went on sale in May ’21. Her recent books include My Pear-Shaped Life, A Thousand Roads Home, and the official ITV novel Cold Feet: The Lost Years.
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