Honestly, I had no idea that Graham Norton could write.
I had totally missed the boat and didn’t realise that he published a fiction book back in 2016, Hiding, so, as I said this week in my WWW Wednesday #5 post, imagine my surprise seeing his name in WH Smith in Heathrow Airport when I was looking for something to occupy my brain for the last leg of my 30-hour journey back to Scotland from Sydney. My plan was to buy the first book that caught my eye, and this was it.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When Elizabeth Keane returns to England after her mother’s death, she’s focused only on saying goodbye to that dark and dismal part of her life. Her childhood home is packed solid with useless junk, her mother’s presence already fading. But within this mess, she discovers a small stash of letters – and ultimately, the truth.
Forty years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet except for the constant wind that encircles her as she hurries deeper into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.
One of my favourite styles of writing is when two stories are beautifully interlinked with one another, and this does exactly that. While hearing from Elizabeth in some chapters as she travels Ireland searching for the truth of her mother’s – and her own – past, this is perfectly punctuated by Patricia, her mother, and her surprising story.
I have to admit, for the first half of the book I was enjoying it but not adoring it. It was definitely still a good book and I still wanted to keep reading and find out what happened to the two women, but it wasn’t going to make it to the top of my favourite books of 2019. However, I found there to be a sudden shift around the middle of the book and then I couldn’t put it down. As pieces of the story finally came to light, everything slotted together and became a work of art. I definitely think this is one of those books that you shouldn’t go into knowing too much about it, so I’m going to stop right there in the hope that you still get the full effect if you read it too (which I definitely think you should).
As it turns out, Graham Norton should not only be known for his hilarious TV interviews with celebrities. He is a truly gifted writer too, with the ability to craft a story as beautiful and haunting as this one. This tale about family secrets, loss, identity and belonging is one that will stick with me for a while.