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The Spinning Heart    by Donal Ryan order for
Spinning Heart
by Donal Ryan
Order:  USA  Can
Steerforth Press, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

First published in Ireland and winner of Book of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards among others, The Spinning Heart is the story of a village, told by the people who live there. Author Donal Ryan has quite a gift for character and speech. We can feel what it is like to exist in a place where everybody knows everybody else and all watch to see who will stumble next.

Each character tells his or her story in authentic individual prose, and all struggle. It is a rotten time economically. Men have lost their jobs, and their self-esteem as well. Women struggle to raise their children in an atmosphere fraught with potential violence because husbands and fathers do not know how to deal with their frustration and anger. Yet it is always the others who are not doing so well, or who are flouting the village customs. Because the times are so harsh, it is hard for neighbors to forgive one another for their humanity.

As each character speaks, several unifying stories emerge. Ryan expertly weaves everything together to create a dark and poignant view of rural Ireland in this difficult time. For a first-time author this is a very self-assured debut.

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