When the list of the 50 books nominated for best Irish book of the decade was published a few weeks ago I was mildly ashamed to realise that I'd only read three of them. Perhaps I shouldn't have been, the list is a fairly broad one taking in several categories and including things I would rather eat than have to read, like PS I love You and Bill Cullen's autobiography. Still, there are plenty of good authors on the list, and several of those books have been sitting on my shelves for months now, awaiting my perusal.
One such book was Claire Kilroy's Tenderwire. I appear to be reading Kilroy's stuff backwards, having read her third and most most recent one, All Names Have Been Changed (a review of that will no doubt be along soon enough), before Tenderwire - her second.
A thriller about a violin? You're probably not gripped yet. But such is Kilroy's skill at characterisation and dialogue that the reader quickly becomes engrossed in the story and comes to understand the redemptive symbolism that the violin holds for the passionate, mentally unstable Eva - a character whom the reader may not necessarily like, but whom they will find themselves caring about. Such are her travails and such is her emotionally fragile believability that there was more than one point during the story where I wanted to wrap Eva up in a blanket, make her a hot chocolate and tell her to cop on to herself.
On this evidence Kilroy deserves her place among the best new Irish writers. I'll let you know for definite when I've read her first.