Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Trip of a Lifetime - Monica Mcinerney

A story about families and the drama that lies therein.

 Mcinerney's books are all about families, which is why I love her so much. Although she talking about Australian- Irish families in her books, it speaks so well to my Indian mentality. I love her ability to show the dynamics of familial relationships with such a remarkable style.

I recall reading her Hello From the Gillespies and enjoying every minute of it.  It was about story of a family in a year - starting from one christmas to another. I was hooked on it mainly because of Mcinerney's contagious and compelling writing style.

So this time when this book came in as part of a goodreads giveaway, it was just in time to pack it as my holiday read for a week in Fuertaventura. 

Sun, sand and a Mcinerney book in hand - great.


The family's grand matriarch 90-year- old Lola wants to visit Ireland. She left it decades ago as a young woman travelling with her husband to Australia. As with everything she does (for those who know her from Alphabet sisters) her decision sparks a lot of conflict in the family.  She wants her granddaughter Bett and her great grand daughter Ellen to accompany her, much to everyone's annoyance. 

For the journalist grand daughter Bett, it is bad timing. There is a possibility about a mystery series to be filmed in their area and the air is buzzing with news. Bett's newspaper is in the danger of closing down, and this trip is the last thing she wants to do right now.

Lola has a reason for going back - a decades old secret that was never revealed. But now she wants to make peace with the past and rectify things while she still can. She is the foundation that her family is built on and to keep it solid, she needs to make this trip of a lifetime.

What works:
  • Mcinerney's writing style. Her verbal strokes are amazing. The humour and the banter which she brings her characters to life are her strong points.
  • The characters. They are distinct and she describes them with ease. You meet them for the first time but it doesn't take long for you to relate to them, making you curious to see how they fare.
  • The setting. Mcinerney is great at drawing domestic situations and manipulating them to plot her story.
What doesn't:

  • Once Lola gets to Ireland, the pace is great and the story flows like a stream of clear water. Her observations about how the country has changed in her absence is perceptive and enlightening. 

  • However, the first half drama which is more about what is happening with Bett, her relationship with  Ellen and the preparations that go into their journey is tedious. It takes the wind out of the sails of narrative, weighing it down. 

  • This is not her best work. But the way she explores the family relations - stepmum and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law chemistry, it works well and is very easy, enjoyable read overall.

Treat it like a light, fluffy summer read and you will have a great time.

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