It’s 1978 and Sinead Reilly, a university student across the water, has mixed feelings about returning to Northern Ireland. Called home by her family, she must confront the past she thought she’d escaped. It’s a trip back in more ways than one.
We meet the ten-year-old Sinead who just wants to play with her friends and look out for her brothers and sisters, but she finds herself caught in an undercurrent of distrust and political unrest that she doesn’t understand. Her parents, Mairead and Paddy, tell their sides of the story too, as they navigate the difficulties of raising a large family in an increasingly divided society.
Set in the early years of the Troubles, Honeysuckle and Custard Creams explores the enduring nature of familial ties, and the challenges of escaping a shared history in which shame and remorse are never far from the surface.
Today’s Tempted by… is a book which hasn’t had a lot of publicity, but would appear to be a hidden gem from reading this review as featured on the blog Swirl and Thread written by the lovely Mairead,. The book is Honeysuckle and Custard Creams by Deirdre Foley.
We follow the main character of Sinead, as she returns to her home in Northern Ireland after years spent away and hear about life for a family against the back drop of the Troubles in the early 1970’s. This is a period of history that fascinates me, and is particularly relevant given the political drama we are experiencing in Britain today, so this sounded like a book that would interest me.
In her review, Mairead describes it as a intimate and truthful portrait of a family that feels so real it could be a memoir, with an emotive and sensitive portrayal of what it felt like to live in the strained atmosphere of Belfast with tensions between factions at their highest and the pressure increased by the arrival of British troops. One of the main reasons I love to read is to try and put myself in to the shoes of people who have lived different lives to mine and learn through their experiences. If this book feels as authentic as Mairead describes, I look forward to getting a new perspective on the experience of living through the Troubles as a child.
I love to read Mairead’s reviews, which I always find very perceptive and thoughtful and clearly delivered. She obviously puts a lot of time and effort in to producing them, which is very rewarding for the reader and you will get a clear idea of whether the book she has reviewed is for you or not from her critique. She also features many interesting guest posts and author question and answer posts on the blog, so it is a great place to visit if you like to learn more about the drive and inspiration behind some great authors and novels. I really hope you will go and check her blog out, I’m sure you will be glad you did.
If you would like to get a copy of Honeysuckle and Custard Creams for yourself, you can buy it here.
About the Author
Deirdre Foley was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She studied and worked in London as a welfare officer before moving to Athens, where she lived for many years teaching English and bringing up her two daughters. Now she is a writer and a gestalt psychotherapist.
She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and in 2014 she was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Competition.
She flits between her two homelands, Ireland and Greece, and is working on a second novel.