Saturday 4 September 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Ghostlights - Gráinne Murphy

Can we ever truly escape our past?
The Ghostlights is the poignant story of a family of Irish women who are each looking for the real meaning of home. This is a novel about family, obligation, identity and small-town life, written with deftness and sensitivity by the author of Where the Edge Is.

When a stranger checks into a family B&B – in a small village in rural Ireland – no one takes too much notice... at least until his body is found in the lake four days later.

The identity of the unknown guest raises questions for polar opposite twin sisters Liv and Marianne and their mother Ethel, all of whom feel trapped by the choices they made earlier in life. They each find themselves forced to confront their past, their present and what they really want from their future.

The new novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.

What did I think?

Gráinne Murphy's debut Where the Edge Is is a beautiful novel that has stayed in my mind since I turned the final page over a year ago, so I was eager to read her second novel, The Ghostlights.  Inspired by a true story, The Ghostlights captured me in its spell and my eyes refused to leave the page as I devoured every single beautifully written word in just two sittings.

I continue to be absolutely gobsmacked by Gráinne Murphy's stunning characterisation.  The characters are so well developed that they feel like real people and I felt as if I was peeking into their lives through a hidden camera.  Twins Liv and Marianne, their mother Ethel and Liv's son Shay are completely unforgettable as they were brought to life before my eyes.  They could certainly be described as a dysfunctional family as they all have a lot going on behind the scenes, but I won't spoil the plot by saying any more than that.

It's sad to think that the story of the stranger checking into the B&B before committing suicide is based on a true story but it really makes you wonder how frequently this sort of thing occurs.  I'm sure a lot more than I can even imagine.  As to what lures people to their deaths, could it be the mysterious ghostlights of folklore?  

I loved the references to the changelings and ghostlights of Irish folklore as Gráinne Murphy reminds us that 'real' fairies are nothing like the Disney version.  I also couldn't help smiling at the story about the swaying Virgin Mary statue, mainly because I remembered the hilarious episode from Father Ted, but I didn't realise that the famous reports of moving statues in Ireland all occurred during the summer of 1985.  Of course, I was off googling for hours after this!

Beautifully written with subtle notes of Irish humour, The Ghostlights is a mesmerising and immersive novel.  It's a 4.5 rounded up to 5 stars from me and I'm sure it will be another Gráinne Murphy that I will never forget.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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