I hold up my hands right now and admit that this book had not even entered my radar until it was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards in the First Novel category. I’d read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Haunting Of Henry Twist, which have also been shortlisted in the same category and enjoyed them both. I have The Clocks In This House All Tell Different Times on order from the library and I bought Montpelier Parade as I couldn’t wait that long to read it.
So what’s it about?
Set in 1980’s Dublin (at least it feels like the 80’s even though I don’t think the time period is ever referred to!) we meet Sonny Knolls, a teenage boy living in a working class family with his Mum, Dad and two brothers. He has earned a place at the local grammar school but struggles to fit in there due to his background. He spends his time helping out at the local butchers shop and riding the buses, drinking alcohol with his friend and admirer, Sharon.
He has a lonely home life where it feels like nobody really understands him and he struggles to find his place. His parents relationship is somewhat strained and living at home is not easy.
One day he is helping his labourer Dad fix a wall when he meets the enigmatic and mysterious Vera, an older woman who he becomes instantly mesmerised and smitten by.
Vera is a complex character with her own demons but she too finds an affiliation with this young boy for her own reasons. Reasons which are not revealed until pretty much the end of the story.
Now I have to admit when Sonny and Vera’s relationship developed, a part of me hoped it wouldn’t go down the most obvious route. When it did I was pleased that it was very well written and sensitively handled.
The writing style is fluid and easy. Nothing is flowered up which I enjoyed. I had reservations at first as this book is written in the second person which is not something I’m used to. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever read a book written this way….however once I got used to it I got along fine.
This was a quick easy read for me. Not least because it’s quite short! But because it is a story you get caught up and swept along in, eager to find out how it will all pan out.
Gritty and raw but also very tender, I definitely give this book 5 stars.
Get your hands on a copy if you can.
My money is on The Haunting Of Henry Twist winning the prize but I’d be happy to see this one win too.
See you soon with another review.