*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Night Stages
Author: Jane Urquhart
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Set mainly in a remote area of County Kerry in the ’40s and ’50s, Jane Urquhart’s stunning new novel is at once intimate and epic in scope.
Tam, an English woman in her thirties, has been living in this harshly beautiful region since shortly after the war, in which she served as an auxiliary pilot. She is now leaving her lover, Niall, who, like his father before him, is a meteorologist.
The airliner she is travelling on becomes grounded by fog at Gander Airport, Newfoundland. As she waits, she regards an enigmatic mural, and revisits not only the circumstances that brought her to Ireland but her intense relationship with Niall and his growing despondency over his younger brother Kieran’s disappearance years before.
The Night Stages explores the meaning of separation, the sorrows of fractured families, and the profound effect of home in a world where a way of life is changing.
This is a beautifully written novel. The story breathes Ireland. Urquhart’s writing brings the landscape to life and puts you right in the land and the culture. The setting is vibrant and vivid. If there’s any one thing to be said about this book is that it’s so easy to feel as though you’ve fallen right into Ireland with the characters.
However, I couldn’t connect with the character. Kieran, a trouble boy who grows into a solitary and shy young man, seems to be the focus. The narrator’s eye turns to him: the tantrums he suffers as a child, the unrequited love that blossoms as he becomes a adolescent, and the introspection he develops as a focused adult. He has no relationship with his family, but is set on honing his mind and body as he grows up. We learn about Kieran’s brother in the periphery of the story, and additionally, Niall’s mistress Tam. But we never really get to know these characters in much depth. I felt as though I didn’t really get to know anyone at all.
The beautiful descriptions carried the story, but it fell flat with the characters. I struggled to get through most of the story. I felt as though there was a lot included that was really not essential to the plot. I found myself quite disappointed with the story as a whole, as beautiful as the writing was.