A Guest Post from my lovely friend, book club buddy and fellow blogger Margaret Bonass Madden of http://bleachhouselibrary.blogspot.ie/
Having read Carol Coffey's previous novels, The Penance Room and Winter Flowers, I was delighted to see this on my To-Be-Reviewed pile. I am a big fan and was dying to see if this new novel was as good as her others. I was not disappointed.
Brendan is forced to go to live with his Uncle in New Jersey after a brush with the law. He has also to complete some community service as part of his bail conditions. A big change for a man in his 30s who lived a pretty self centered life in New York.
His ex-cop Uncle is hard, tough and extremely old school. His Aunt is meek and mousy. Their daughter, Eileen is a nervous, shy woman who is completely controlled by her bullying Father. However, Brendan and Eileen form a bond and the changes in their lives mean their days become a bit more bearable for both of them.
Eileen introduces Brendan to staff and residents at a local homeless shelter where she volunteers, and this is where Brendan meets the unusual character, Jonathan Doe. Found as a child severely battered, neglected and abused, he has lived at the shelter for years and no one knows where he came from or why he speaks fluent Spanish. This man's story becomes too intruiging to ignore and Brendan decides to investigate the man's past, despite warnings from staff to let it be.
The characters in this novel are just perfect. Warmly researched, the attention to detail that has been afforded to the individual stories leads to some of the best writing I have come across for years. The concept of what a home is, what family means and how our past can influence our future is delicately interwoven throughout the chapters and you can almost feel as if you are in the middle of the wonderful story along with the cast.
There are several threads throughout the book but they are so well linked that there is no apparent divisions. Smooth, sleek and compelling, the wonderful characters just tug at your heartstrings and you are wishing them well as they explore their past, present and future.
Similar in style to the 2009 BestSelling " The Silver Linings Playbook " by Matthew Quick, this underrated novel by Carol Coffey deserves a chance to be up there with the best novels of 2013.
" The Incredible Life of Jonathan Doe " is published by Poolbeg.
Thanks to Poolbeg for a review copy of this great book.