Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan


The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
First published by Doubleday in 2012. Won Book Of The Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2012 and the Guardian First Book Award in 2013.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
Buy the book from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Swapped in a campsite book exchange

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm glad I didn't allow the over-effusive praise on the cover of The Spinning Heart to put me off reading the novel as I thoroughly enjoyed it and, for a debut author, this is an impressive achievement. The eponymous heart does not refer to that of a lovelorn Irish lass, as might be expected from the presentation, but to a creaking metal heart on the worn gate of a bitter old man, one of the many characters we meet during the course of this story.

Ryan allocates each chapter to a different inhabitant of a small bankrupt town in Ireland. Bobby, Kate, Bridie, Lily and others speak to us directly, with distinctive voices, and as each describes their situation and passes along the latest gossip, we come to understand their sad circumstances. I remember a few years ago seeing a TV documentary which visited an Irish estate where only a couple of the new houses were sold and inhabited, the rest simply decaying around them. The plight of the families trapped in these unsellable homes was disturbing and Ryan explores what led to the phenomenon in The Spinning Heart. I liked the way Ryan intertwines each chapter. He allows enough repetition of facts to quickly establish the relationship of the speaker to other people I had already met. However, he never overdoes this or allows it to slow the pace of the work. The voices sound authentic so I could easily empathise and understand their choices even if I didn't agree with their actions. Perhaps I could have done without the voice of a ghost though.

The Spinning Heart is a quick read at just 156 pages, but packs quite a punch. The colloquial language used enhances the atmosphere and several of the chapters were emotional to read.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Donal Ryan / Contemporary fiction / Books from Ireland

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