Read beyond the initial awkwardness of childhood friends Kate and Oliver’s romance and you’re rewarded with a book so richly engaging, you’ll want to savour it.
Kate has been left a house by an aunt. Oliver has quit his job and offers to oversee the renovation of what he remembers from a boyhood glimpse of exotic wallpaper as ‘the house of birds’.
Bedding down in the living room, while Kate is in New York, he discovers a diary stuffed within the carefully cut-out pages of an old history book. And so we meet Sophia, the narrator of this story within a story, who once lived in the house.
She relates her life — being barred from the Bodleian Library without a man to introduce her, meeting a young academic called Christopher, who gives her access to the vast cavern of books and in whom she finds comfort (and escape) from her war-scarred husband George.
Not without some plot contrivances, but when McCarthy is writing as Sophia, there’s nothing you’d rather be reading.
The House Of Birds
Tinder Press, €21.65; ebook, €11.30
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