So maybe I’m behind the trend on this one, but I wasn’t aware that Graham Norton wrote books. I’m a fan of his TV show–I don’t go out of my way to watch it, but I’ve enjoyed it the times I’ve seen it–but I really didn’t know he did anything outside that.
I mean, I suppose I should have guessed. He doesn’t just live in a bubble of television. (That would be weird.) But in any case, when I saw his name on the book and ascertained that it was in fact that SAME Graham Norton, I knew I had to pick it up.
He didn’t let me down. It’s a quaint piece set in a small town in Ireland, and follows several characters who have their small town lives shaken up by a big city problem. Norton keeps it fresh by hopping around between a few difference viewpoints without ever making it confusing; all of the characters are connected, so even when you stay with one for a while, it’s easy to pick up where the next came in.
Each character has their own voice, each tale has its own route, and they all weave together incredibly. It has all the right nuances of being a small town–and all the usual problems of being a small town. (And speaking as someone who grew up in a VERY small town, I have first hand experience!)
That being said, it doesn’t really do anything terribly surprising or new. Even if I didn’t see the twists coming, when they came it didn’t shock me. (Well one did, but.) Again, it’s a small town. There’s only so much that can happen in a small town and actually stay secret. This isn’t so much a criticism of Norton and his writing, and more simply a restriction the setting places on you. I mean, you can write whatever you want, but when it gets too extreme, you start to wonder if the willing suspension of disbelief can hold for that much. Start putting underground crime rings in tiny towns, and I’m going to raise an eyebrow. Ten bucks says someone in that town knows. Probably several someones.
A good book. Excellent quick read, with just enough of Norton’s classic wit seeping into the characters to make you laugh, and enough twists of the heartstrings to almost make you cry. Nothing to blow you away, but a good way to spend some quiet time.
Rating: *** (Worth a Look)