adult fiction · contemporary · review

The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney

“The frame around which one builds one’s life in a brittle thing, and in a city of souls connected one snapped beam can threaten the spikes and shadows of the skyline.”

 

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Blurb: “Maureen didn’t mean to kill a man, but what can a poor dear do when she’s surprised by an intruder and has only a holy stone to hand? Lucky that she’s just reconnected with her estranged son Jimmy because, as the most feared gangster in Cork, he certainly had the tools to sort out the mess. So Jimmy enlists his boyhood buddy Tony who, with six kids and a love of the bottle, could certainly do with the money, even if his teenage son, Ryan, is far too keen to grow up so he can become a gangster himself. And all is going to plan until Georgie, the girlfriend of the hapless intruder, starts to wonder where he went…”

For the past few years I have followed the Bailey’s Women’s Prize from the longlist, to the shortlist and then to the winner. However, I have never actually taken the step to read them. This year there was a wonderful sounding collection of books up for the title and The Glorious Heresies was crowned the winner.

If you frequent my blog or have seen my shelves on Goodreads, then you know that this book isn’t the kind of thing I normally read. But I tried to go into it with an open mind after my disastrous attempt at reading a wider range of fiction this year.

The story follows a group of characters all linked in some way to a man who is accidently killed when he intrudes on someone’s home. The person who dealt the unexpected blow is a woman called Maureen who enlists the help of her gangster son, Jimmy, to deal with the body. Jimmy turns to one of his inner circle, Tony, to help him. Tony’s son, Ryan, wants to grow up and become a gangster like his father and frequently deals drugs to a selection of contacts he had. The woman next door, Tara, isn’t privy to keeping her mouth shut, much to Jimmy’s annoyance. To make matters worse, Georgie, the girlfriend of the man Maureen killed, has started to look for answers.

I expected the murder to happen right at the start which it doesn’t; it’s a few pages in. Initially this threw me off but as I delved further into the story, it became clear that while the body is the factor that links them together, the plot itself is more so about the characters. Lisa McInerney had created a group of characters that are meant to be inherently unlikeable yet through her writing choices, it becomes easy to find them fascinating and at some parts, actually start to feel sorry for them. For me, the character of Tony was one I couldn’t stand yet as his arc progressed I found myself caring more about him than any other characters I crossed paths with on this journey.

The Glorious Heresies is so beautifully constructed that even the stagnant parts of their book still hold your interest. Definitely worthy of being a prize winner.

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