I have been feeling particularly old this week, Bookaholics. Whether it’s the incessant back ache, the constant tiredness or the realisation that one of my colleagues was born 2 years after I started working for my current employer (shoot me now), the world has been conspiring to make me feel geriatric. When I feel like this, it is far too easy to assume the best years are behind me (pipe and slippers, anyone?) and it is for this reason that I enthusiastically embrace any novel where the protagonist is more mature in years yet actively demonstrates that human value does not diminish with decrepitude, no matter what the media may tell us. My copy of Rose Hawthorne: The Irish Wanders, therefore, could not have arrived at a better time, with a feisty 70 year old heroine who embodies the ideal that life’s adventures do not stop simply because you are a grandmother. This is a delightfully charming tale that provided me with some much needed escapism.
From the very opening scene it is clear that Rose is a force to be reckoned with. A celebrated author of world-wide renown, she is a lady with strong opinions and unafraid to express them to friends, family and even the man who ransacks her house in a botched burglary. When a letter arrives from a secretive source asking for her help solving an ancient Irish mystery, our heroine doesn’t hesitate to travel from Toronto with her grand-daughter Samantha on a mission to find out more. Blending magic and mystery with romantic reminiscence, and set against the incredibly evocative backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside, this novel’s mix of ancient druid myth and fairy-tale fiction certainly captured my imagination.
My favourite thing about this book was the growing relationship between Rose and Samantha as the story progressed, with the complex clash between old and young gradually dissipating as the excitement of their adventure grows. Alongside Bill, our heroine’s love interest from some 50 years earlier, they make an unlikely yet touching investigative team as they search for the mysterious medallions that form the object of their quest. Yes there are occasional moments when things seem to happen a little too conveniently – and yes the ending is bordering on cliché – but I can forgive this for the plot had me hooked. As Rose develops from classic domineering matriarch to someone far more in touch with her feelings, the reader’s empathy for her also grows, and it is difficult not to root for all 3 of the protagonists as the story canters towards its conclusion.
This isn’t a challenging read and was exactly what the doctor ordered in a week when the world has felt overwhelming. If you are looking for something to take you away from the world and distract you from life for a few hours, this is the book for you. I will, however, provide one warning – it will leave you with an irresistible urge to visit Ireland immediately. Now, where did I put my passport?