Mr. Lynch’s Holiday, by Catherine O’Flynn (2013)

Genre: Contemporary
Interest Level: Adult
Mr. Lynch's HolidayWhat a delight it is to discover a new (to me) author out of Europe! Catherine O’Flynn’s very first novel was longlisted for the Booker prize, her second was shortlisted for an Edgar, and this third title is sure to gain equal attention. Dermot Lynch is an Irish-born bus driver, now retired and living alone in Birmingham, England, months after his wife has passed away. He has finally cleared away her things, and decides to visit his son Eamonn, who lives in Spain. He sends Eamonn a letter giving him details on his arrival and sets off. (That’s the only plot weakness – a letter? Why not phone? O’Flynn should have included a scene to explain this, the pleasure of committing to the decision in ink – something like that.) At any rate, Dermot arrives the same day as the letter, and Eamonn can’t avoid the reunion. It comes on the heels of his wife’s decision to return to England, and Eamonn is devastated. He’s a mess, and his Dad is the last person he wants to see. O’Flynn develops a lovely character in Dermot – a quiet but observant man who is puzzled by his son’s actions and inactions. Eamonn and Laura’s home in Spain is in a new development – so new, it was only partly completed when the developers went bankrupt. A few hardy folks who bought early are now stuck, and signs of neglect are evident all around to Dermot. The development serves as a metaphor for Eamonn’s marriage – his inattention is hastening its collapse. Despite this, Dermot finds pleasure in this community of lost souls, making friends and quietly restoring a bit of order to this sun-scorched world of disappointments. An absolute pleasure to read, with strong writing, well-developed characters and sharp dialogue. You can feel the hot sun and see the haze, and hear the hushed voices behind half-built structures. One of my favourites of the past year.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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