The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste. So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel.
As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of lovable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
When reading a novel written by a ‘celebrity’, I find myself wondering if the book will live up to the hype. Well I’m delighted to say that Holding by Graham Norton does.
Having read his autobiographies I knew he could write and that he does so with warmth, and I was thrilled that his first novel is funny, tender and heartbreaking sad in places, yet has a warmth and tenderness that leaves your heart aching for all the characters endure. He has an eye for the sorrow a heart can be broken by, yet at the same time the amazing capacity it can have to move on and find the strength to endure.
All the characters within its pages are loveable in some way and I become invested in the hope that they would survive all the drama their small and seemingly quiet community endure. Below the service of this apparently quiet Irish idyll, are a group of people caught up in a whirlwind secrets and painful regrets. They all have something that draws you to them, wanting to know what their secrets are.
Graham Norton displays in his writing an intrinsic understanding of the complexities of human nature. I found myself wanting to hug those whose hearts had endured so much pain, even those who had done wrong, were not your stereotypical villain, because you could understand where that action had come from, even while understanding the pain this had brought to those they sort to love and protect.
Writing the review weeks on from reading Holding, my heart still aches a little for the PJ, Bird and Evelyn and I find myself wishing Graham Norton would write a second novel featuring them, so I can find closure. But life is not made up of tidy endings, so I am left with the hope that this at least will not be the only novel he writes, because we need more from such a wonderfully perceptive writer.
Graham can be followed on Twitter.
Holding was published by Hodder and Stoughton.