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Home Stretch by Graham Norton - Review

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

 

I have read both of Graham Norton's novels previously and really enjoyed them, so when I realised he had another one out I got it and started it pretty quickly afterwards. I think he's one of the few celebrity authors who can actually write pretty well. He certainly knows how to tell a story and keep you turning the pages. 

Okay so the book is set in county Cork in Ireland, and the first parts are set in 1987. Three families receive the news that their children have died in a car accident. Bernie and David, who were about to get married, are both dead, as is their bridesmaid Carmel. Her sister, Linda, is in a coma and is eventually disabled permanently by the crash. The only two who walked away are Connor and Martin. Connor is the son of the owners of the pub and was driving; he is told in no uncertain terms that he isn't welcome at the funerals. Martin is the son of the town's doctor and is on his way to becoming a doctor too. Connor soon leaves the town, knowing that no one will forgive him.

We next catch up with his sister, Ellen, I think. She ends up married to Martin and has two children with him. They live in the old doctor's house, with lots of old dark furniture that Ellen fails to keep clean to Martin's standard. His mother is dying in a back room. Their marriage is totally loveless and Ellen wishes she could leave but can't. 

We also meet Connor, now an older man and living in New York City. His boyfriend Tim has just split up with him which makes Connor think over his whole life, including his time in Liverpool and London on building sites and how he became estranged from his family. He then meets someone else in NY, but I don't want to give too much away as I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns.

I did guess some of the twists but didn't find this was to the book's detriment. It's a lot about queer culture and the progression of it over the last thirty five years, which I liked a lot. I liked Ellen and Connor a lot. My only criticism is that in parts points of view switched within paragraphs, but this could have been a stylistic choice and it does mostly work. As I say, I do like Graham's work a lot and will be interested to see what he writes next. I'm giving this four out of five!

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