The Loney

“When I looked at Farther I saw that work and school were really no different. One merely became qualified to pass from one system to the next, that was all. Routine was a fact of life. It was life, in fact.” Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley is told in flashback and recounts the young narrator’s final visit with his family to a place called The Loney, isolated place near a beach where he goes every Easter with his family, neighbours and the parish priest. The aim of the visit is to ‘find themselves more in God’, and for Hanny, the narrator’s mentally disturbed brother, the highlight of the visit is meant to be The Loney’s holy well in the latest of many attempts by his rigidly religious mother to have him cured by divine intervention.

However, this particular visit goes spectacularly amiss. The family’s former priest who died in mysterious circumstances, replaced by a cheerful Irishman with different (read more realistic) views on God’s will on earth and the locals seem to make it difficult for the families at every turn, with strange effigies in the woods and a disturbing encounter on the beach. The family end up being as isolated as the place itself and don’t know who to trust.

I liked The Loney for the way it stayed true to life; a relationship summed up perfectly with just a tilt of the head, or a single glance, nature and people described as one and the same and the fact that it majors on the things that aren’t said, that actually say everything.

I also liked the unusual and well thought out similes Hurley uses- my particular favourite being “Like most drunks, Billy bypassed the small talk and slapped his bleeding, broken heart into my palm like a lump of raw beef” as its an image that automatically makes you squeamish inside and recoil back, but at the same time is absolutely true- there is no room for lengthy and polite conversations when drunk. Matters of the heart are the most important topic of conversation.

I wont spoil the ending, I will just say it is good. For me the book is more an ‘interesting’ than an easy read, but it tells the story of brotherhood loyalty, distrust of outsiders and the lengths people will go to believe against all the odds, very well. I would (and have) recommended to friends.

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