A question from a reader posted on this blog prompted me to reread this marvelous book. Yes, I had a good crime novel going but I’m open these days and From a Low and Quiet Sea is quite short, a novella really and I read it about 300 books ago (18 months).
From a Low and Quiet Sea
by Donal Ryan 2018 / 191 pages
Read by a cast – 5h 42m
Rating: 10 / contemp. lit
(read and listened)
I gave it a rating of 9 last time and I read it twice then (back-to-back) with some extra time spent on the last section. The writing is some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read – but Irish fiction can get to my heart. The review here has no spoilers
This following review has spoilers:
The tale involves three unrelated men and their lives. They don’t connect until the end. The first is a refugee from Syria who loses his wife and child after which he kind of lands in Ireland. Dad is not in his right mind after all this. These are professional people but there has been some religious-political taint on the family.
The second story is that of a somewhat dim and very troubled young Irishman with a foul temper and some bad luck. His life has been a mess.
Finally, the third man is a wealthy accountant who is so sad with remorse and loss he can almost not bear it. This first person is trying to make his confession to a priest but he’s telling the reader. He says he is guilty of every sin there is and he starts in recounting the little stories of his deeds and yes, he has sinned.
All three men have lost considerably and their tales are how they responded. All three desperately want to die but they don’t.
In the second to last “chapter” we meet the women, the immigrant man’s new girlfriend, the Irishman’s mother who thinks about death and heaven remembering the man who fathered her son.
And then in the final chapter they all come together in a bus wreck and it’s all okay in very different ways. The last short sections have to be read very carefully with an eye to what the whole book has led up to for these folks indivfidually in order to see how each character’s story ends.