Kinky thought it was interesting how different parts of the country had their own lore. Where she came from, some people believed that if a man didn’t shave on a Sunday he’d never get a toothache, but if you had a toothache or a gumboil, then carrying the two jawbones of a haddock in your pocket was a sure cure. Out on the west coast, they swore you should never ask a question of a dog, for it it gives you an answer you will surely die. – from An Irish Country Girl, page 64 –
Kinky Kincaid has lived in the northern Irish village of Ballybucklebo for more than 40 years, working as a housekeeper for two harried doctors. Readers of Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country series know little about her childhood and where she grew up … until now. Kinky reminisces about when she was a young girl named Maureen O’Hanlon – first telling the neighborhood children about the Saint Stephen’s Day ghost’s initial appearance in the southern county of Cork; and later (as she makes Christmas dinner for the doctors) Kinky recalls her memories of the years growing up from a child into womanhood in that same county.
An Irish Country Girl is not just a coming of age story, but a look deep beneath the lore and magic of Ireland. The novel centers around the belief in fairies, spirits and the mystical Banshee whose eerie wail on a snowy night foretells of a death. Blessed with “the sight” (passed down from her mother), the young Maureen wants to understand her future. She is a dreamer, a determined girl who wants an education to become a teacher as well as a romantic match with the man she grows to love.
Patrick Taylor brings to life a small farming community and its eccentric people, and reveals the life of a young girl growing up in the 1920s in Ireland. Readers unable to stretch their imaginations may find it difficult to fully immerse themselves in this realm of magical realism. But, I found the novel a fun and entertaining read. Taylor’s narrative strength is in telling the story through his characters’ eyes. At times I felt as though I was sitting rapt in front of a gifted Irish storyteller, waiting for the expected ending to a tale of intrigue.
Taylor has written a light, engrossing novel about storytellers, magic, and Irish lore. He describes the Irish countryside with its rolling green hills and dales, its flocks of sheep, and the unexpected and sudden shifts in weather; then inserts his quirky characters and the “little people” who populate the spaces beneath the blackthorn trees, thereby creating a story which entertains and delights the imagination.
If you have not yet read Taylor’s previous books in the series, no worries. This novel can stand on its own. Taylor even includes a helpful glossary of Irish terms and phrases, as well as some of Kinky Kincaid’s fabulous recipes at the end of the book.
Recommended to those readers interested in Irish lore and magic, as well as readers who enjoy novels of small town life.
FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me from the publisher for review on my blog.