Author Hilary Fannin with her book, ‘The Weight of Love’, outside Tertulia bookshop at The Quay, Westport.
Love, is a theme of both my books this week. There have been times in my life when love would seem to be the only thing that really makes sense. Yet answering the question of what is love, is in itself one of life’s biggest unanswerable. Both books explore this question in their own unique way.
My first book choice, published by Penguin Random House is fiction entitled, ‘The Weight of Love’, by Hilary Fannin, Irish author and columnist. The story opens in Russell Square, London 1995, when the three main characters, Ruth, Joe and Robin, all with Irish backgrounds, first encounter each other. Having myself availed of the pot of gold on offer in London, way back, I am instantly there with them, when seemingly endless youth will open up all possibilities and love will triumph over all.
The story shifts beautifully between their London of yesterday and Dublin of today. This rhythm allows for reflection, forward and back as the characters reveal their stories to us. We journey with them, from the time their paths cross and destiny takes her role, to discover how the decisions they have made affect their sense of who they are and what they want from life and from love.
We may all look back with a sense of yearning for youth passed or opportunities missed but this book opens a space to explore those questions. And if we dare to give life to that reflection, we perhaps may accept the paths our lives have taken and in so doing give hope to new beginnings and once again allow youthful yearning to blossom no matter what our age or our situation.
My second book choice is a collection of folklore stories published by Skein Press, ‘Why the moon travels’, by Oein DeBhairduin, with illustrations by Leanne McDonagh. This is the first ever known collection of folktales written by a Traveller about Travellers and illustrated by a Traveller.
By page ten, I have to sit back and take a breath. Stunning and beautiful are the words that come to me. Each chapter is lovingly introduced by Oein’s own associations with the story and his own telling of the traditions that surround each story.
“We are all made of stories,” Oein tells us. He invites us to connect with our own stories and our collective stories. “Like all traditional tales they are meant to grow and change with the visions of the teller. They are alive as much as we are alive, they journey as much as we journey … these tales may be a reminder of the beauty and the ever-present voice of our ancestors and a call to once again share the tales we have inherited … may we each live a life worth retelling.”
Both books remind us this week that while we may not have all the answers to life’s big questions, we do however sense that love and its existence provide the storyline that connects our past, present and future. “May we each live a life worth retelling.”
Bríd Conroy and her husband Neil Paul run Tertulia – A Bookshop Like No Other at Westport Quay.