27 Aug 2009

The Family On Paradise Pier.

The Family On Paradise Pier By Dermot Bolger.

Donegal, 1915: although war rages in Europe the Goold Verschoyle children seem hardly touched by it, with midnight swims, flower fairies and regatta parties forming the backdrop of their enchanted childhood. But cataclysmic events in Spain, Russia, Ireland and London soon wrench the family apart. Art travels to Moscow to witness communism at first hand; Brendan is caught up in the General Strike in England before running away to experience the Spanish Civil War; Eva follows the more conventional route of marriage and family, but dreams of being an artist. Driven by idealism, wrecked by argument and united by love and the vivid memories of childhood, the Goold Verschoyles' incredible lives capture the struggles of a generation that must learn to create a new world from the ashes of the past.

Though not a biography, THE FAMILY ON PARADISE PIER 'originated from taped conversations made in 1992 when Sheila (Goold Verschoyle) was almost 90 years of age' and agreed to the writing of a book based on her life 'with some name changes and deliberate blurring of facts'

To me this novel was too 'busy', almost like the author was concerned more with quantity than quality. With so many strands to the story, there was no real depth to either characters or storyline.

Effectively three books in one: it told the stories of Brendan, Art and Eva and was set in four different countries. Then there were the stories of the lesser characters, including eldest daughter Martha and, the unusually named, Mr and Mrs Ffrench, who were mentioned every now and again.

At 546 pages (not to mention the 25 or so pages about the writing of the book and the author profile) I found the book too long and quite confusing at times. In my opinion, it would have been a far better if the author had concentrated on the story of Eve, her husband Freddie and their two children, the tomboyish Hazel and delicate son, Francis.

MY RATING: 1.5 out of a possible 5.

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