The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna

Genre: Fiction
Synopsis: The Misremembered Man is a beautifully rendered portrait of life in rural Ireland which charms and delights with its authentic characters and gentle humor. This vivid portrayal of the universal search for love brings with it a darker tale, heartbreaking in its poignancy.


Review: In short, The Misremembered Man is a quirky combination of lightly humorous and rather depressing. That synopsis tells you next to nothing, so here you go: Jamie and Lydia are two lonely hearts whose only similarity is their search for 'something more' in the rural, isolated culture of 70s Ireland. In addition, a large part of the book is dedicated to illustrating the harsh living conditions of a young orphan boy.

The stark contrast between these narratives is somewhat off-putting for the first half or so of the book. I found the contrast in tone fumbled wildly with my emotions and thus alienated me somewhat from the novel as a whole. I didn't know what I was supposed to be feeling - one moment I was laughing at classic Father Ted style Irish humour and the next, I was reading about the horrific orphanage conditions which I know all too well to be a shamefully accurate depiction of Ireland's not-so-distant past.

That said, it is a beautifully written novel with some fabulous turns of phrase and hugely likeable characters. I also found I could very much relate to a lot of the states of mind explored in the story. More than that, though, it is worth persisting with, because all of the strands do come together in a satisfying and (for me) surprising, if incredibly unlikely, outcome.

I'm taking half a point off for the clash of tones which kept me on the fence for longer than I'd like, but giving it 4.5/5 for being an absolutely hilarious and ultimately heart-warming, though not necessarily happy, story. I don't think my heart has ever gone out to a book character so much as to James Kevin Barry Michael McCloone.

Definitely recommended.

Rating: 4/5