Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review. Ciara Geraghty

Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty
Published by Hachette at €17.50
Reviewed by Sue Leonard.

A shorter version published in The Irish Examiner. April 9th 2011.

Ciara Geraghty leapt to prominence with her first novel, Saving Grace. Her writing, combining humour with a tincture of darkness got her compared to Marian Keyes. I adored that book, and though I was less impressed with the follow up, I was keen to see what Ciara would come up with next.

Finding Mr Flood opens with a night time phone call. This is followed by a dash to hospital, because there’s a kidney available for twenty something Angel. She’s a beauty who, in spite of her illness, lives life to the full. But when the kidney proves a mismatch, all that changes.

Convinced a kidney won’t come in time to save her, Angel sinks into a torpor. Retreating to her room, she ditches her adoring man, whilst her sister Dara watches helplessly.

Dara is the star of this book, and she couldn’t be further from the typical chick lit heroine. There are no designer clothes for Dara – she lives in baggy tracksuits. There’s no flash job, or glamorous lifestyle, either. As for self-esteem- Dara wouldn’t even recognise it. And she’s not only more believable because of these flaws; she’s a damn sight more lovable too.

Dara’s life had an unfortunate start. Her father went out for cigarettes just days before she was born, and he never returned. Dara has always blamed herself. Mr Flood is rarely mentioned in the household, but realising her father’s kidney could save the sister she adores, Dara sets out to find Mr Flood. She hires Stanley Flinter, a disorganised, but delightful private detective to help her.

Readers will love taking this journey with Dara. It’ll take them through the seediest areas in Ireland and England, but give them glamour in Paris. It’ll take them through emotional highs and lows, as Dara despairs of being able to help her sister.

There’s a wonderfully eccentric cast of characters in Dara’s inner circle. Characters like Anya and Tintin, who work in the dog pound with her. There’s Mrs Pettigrew- the sherry drinking old dear who lives next door to the Floods. She’s a recluse – and is terrified to leave the house, but she enjoys poking people, and exchanging tequila slammers on Facebook.

Then there are the dogs. Lots of them. Clouseau, Stanley Flinter’s hound, is as adorable as he’s uncontrollable. But Dara proves his match. There’s Edward, belonging to Mrs Pettigrew, and then there’s Lucky; badly named, because he’s surely the dog least likely to be homed that ever appeared in the pound.

Not all the characters are lovable. The detached Mrs Flood has failed Dara; but she’s nowhere near as bad as Ian Harte. Dara’s devious boyfriend is selfish beyond belief. Then there’s Cora, Stanley’s beautiful lost love, who ditched him for his eldest brother. All add colour, tension, and humour.

This 500 plus page doorstopper flows beautifully from start to finish. The writing never flags, and there’s humour bubbling through the pages. More importantly, the characters retain their authenticity.

So often, reading books in this genre, a reader can feel the hand of the author, as she manipulates the characters to serve the plot. With this book, Geraghty never falls into that trap. The characters develop – and as they do so, the plot moves on.

Finding Mr Flood is possibly the best book in this genre I have ever read. And yes, I’m including the books by that queen of the genre Marian Keyes. When I finished reading it, I missed the company of her eclectic characters. Ciara Geraghty has arrived.


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