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Review: Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan

Title: Queen of Dirt Island

Author: Donal Ryan
Year published: 2023
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 256 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map): Ireland

SummaryThe Aylward women of Nenagh, Tipperary, are mad about each other, but you wouldn’t always think it. You’d have to know them to know that—in spite of what the neighbors might say about raised voices and dramatic scenes—their house is a place of peace, filled with love, a refuge from the sadness and cruelty of the world.
Their story begins at an end and ends at a beginning. It involves wives and widows, gunrunners and gougers, sinners and saints. It’s a story of terrible betrayals and fierce loyalties, of isolation and togetherness, of transgression, forgiveness, desire, and love. Of all the things family can be and all the things it sometimes isn’t. The Queen of Dirt Island is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal love and the powerful stories that bind generations together.

Review: This is the second of two Irish novels that my book group is reading this spring (the first was Normal People, here's a link to my review) and these two do have some similarities.

I have an Irish friend who loved this novel so I was really looking forward to it. While I liked it, it isn't one of my favorites. The writing is good and the characters well developed, but I think I wanted more action (I must note here that Normal People is like this too, so perhaps I've just had too many similar novels in a row).

This story follows the daily lives of 4 generations of Aylward women as they navigate life, village gossip, loves, family, death, and more. I loved that they are so loyal to one another (while at the same time being cruel to each other as only family can be), protecting the family at all costs, even when they don't agree or don't want to.

I think the summary for this book is misleading, which always irritates me; I think they tried to make seem salacious by including "gunrunners and gougers, sinners and saints." To me, it's about a normal family, struggling to survive. There was a fun twist in the last 15 pages that I enjoyed.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Alphabet (Title)--Q

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