I suppose it could be described as some kind of inverted prejudice when you’re in possession of a preconception that causes you to doubt the ability of someone from one profession to be able to totally nail it in another. My conditioned impression of Graham Norton was initially what drew me to this book, asking myself the question, the guy can make me laugh but can he actually write? And if he can, can he sustain it for an entire novel? Yes, he bloody well can!
A Keeper is as taut and edgy a piece of writing as you’re likely to find from even the most seasoned and prolific of novelists. You could be forgiven for thinking this to be the work of someone who’s been writing their entire life instead of appearing on television. Atmospheric and emotional it examines the damage that grief can do, in its broadest sense, how many people it can affect as the net of grief trawls wide. There’s also a lesser story though no less potent concerning parenting but it does have a bearing on the main character and her motivations and ability to consider her situation past, present and future.
There’s a mystery with Edward Foley at the centre of it and Elizabeth seeking answers following the death of her mother Patricia. The story is told from the perspectives of both these woman so you get a kind of past/present feel. Norton’s prose flows easily proving himself to be a consummate story teller with a sense of the dramatic. Occasional forays into more poetic expressionism decorate some of the narrative but it’s largely chapter driven with swathes of dialogue,I always find it interesting to see how a male writer deals with female characters especially if they are the main protagonist. I was convinced for the most part by Elizabeth. I was rooting for her to find out the truth.
Norton celebrates his Irish roots, much of the action takes place in Ireland and the reader gets a sense of the wildness, land and sea, that adds to the atmosphere and unpredictability. It’s a family drama with all the ups and downs and misunderstandings you’d expect. I guess there’s an element of the melodramatic about it but it’s a story, it’s fiction, it’s allowed!
This was a library book. No matter how many proofs or books I receive I will always visit my library as regularly as I can.