A Keeper, by Graham Norton

This was my second book of the year and also part of #beatthebacklog which I’ve been following on Twitter. To recap, this idea was set up by @Owlbesatreading and aims to encourage us to select from our shelves before buying new books. Sometimes it works…. and sometimes you just need that new release. But A Keeper has been on my list to read for a few years – it came as a recommendation from my mum and I’m glad that I have finally given it the attention it deserves.

The book follows a dual timeline: ‘Before’ and ‘Now.’ The ‘Now’ timeline follows Elizabeth, as she returns from New York to Ireland following her mother’s death. She does not feel much happiness about coming back to her family home, indeed she finds it filled with rats and quickly vacates again, but before she leaves she finds a box of letters written to her mother in 1973 by the man she realises was her father, Edward. The timeline then switches to ‘Before’ and to her mother, Patricia’s, story.

Elizabeth put the pile of letters on the floor and leaned against the wall. Her father! Edward Foley. That name had been all she had ever known about her father. She picked the pages up again and her hand was trembling. The man her mother had never let her know had touched these bits of paper. she knew it was ridiculous but seeing the neat handwriting, the black ink soaked into the blue Basildon Bond, she felt connected to him. Had her mother put them here knowing that she would find them? were they her gift to her from beyond the grave?

A Keeper

Patricia had grown up in a small town and, under a friend’s advice she put an ad in a lonely hearts column to help meet someone. The only person to respond to her was Edward, his letters filling her with hope of a life away from the monotony and loneliness. Elizabeth never knew her father and the only thing Patricia told her was that he died. Through the letters from Edward she starts to piece together what happened between them and the secrets, that have been covered up for so long, slowly start to come to the surface.

Outside seemed very bright and loud. Cars were streaming along the road beyond the car park in front of the station. Looking around she quickly saw the kiosk with the large ‘Cork Examiner’ sign above it and there… just behind it, she recognised Edward waiting for her. In truth, the way he had positioned himself it seemed closer to hiding than waiting. She wondered if he had seen her. He was staring studiously in the opposite direction. God, this had all been an awful mistake. She wanted to walk straight back into the station and get on the next train home, the next one anywhere. No. She had come all this way and his letters had been lovely. Edward Foley was going to meet her whether he wanted to or not.

A Keeper

I didn’t particularly warm to the characters in it, but I read on because I wanted to know how the story would unfold. It takes Elizabeth on a tour of the small village where she grew up but also out to her father’s farm where he lived with his mother who was still grieving the death of her other son, and blamed Edward for how he died. I found this book genuinely shocking in parts; the things that happened to Patricia whilst she is with Edward are chilling to read.

I think this book is the perfect accompaniment to all this stormy weather we have been having! Grab a cuppa and get cosy. Have you read this book? Were you surprised by all the twists and reveals?

Published by luggageandscribble

Oh hey, just a girl who loves reading.

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