Dear Great Book Guru, I was at the Sea Cliff Beach Café last weekend with friends and family –a delicious breakfast in a beautiful setting- when one of the party mentioned a new, controversial novel about present day Northern Ireland. That part of the world and its history have always interested me. Have you heard of the book? Troubled by the “Troubles”
Dear Troubled, Yes, I just finished reading MODERN GODS by Nick Laird, an interesting book on many levels. It opens with a brief, undated newspaper account of a massacre in a local pub. Throughout the rest of the novel, short accounts of the victims’ last hours are interspersed. From the massacre, the story shifts to an engaging family drama of aging parents and adult children dealing with upended lives in a small, largely Protestant village in the Irish province of Ulster . The younger daughter Alison is about to remarry and her fiancé is a quiet, timid man with a secret he is willing to share but no wants to hear. The story shifts once again- now to New Ulster, an outpost in Papua New Guinea, where Liz, the older daughter is filming a documentary about a new religion and its charismatic leader- a woman named Belef. The reader quickly sees the parallels between life in each of the Ulsters- places where religion, politics, and history have scarred the population and violence permeates the lives of all. Recommended!