It is odd to read a novel one simultaneously admires and loathes. The admiration is for the book’s intelligence, lack of sentimentality and often extraordinary phrase-making: the loathing is for the relentless navel-gazing, intensity and bleakness of the narrator, Veronica Hegarty, as she drags us along on her journey around her parents, grandparents and brother Liam, with brief stops to survey – usually with distaste – her husband Tom, their two children and her ten other siblings.
The brilliance and horridness of the book is well illustrated by Veronica’s comparison of Tom’s and Liam’s jobs:
Tom moves money around, electronically. Every time he does this, a tiny bit sticks to him. Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Quite a lot of it, in the long