November 30, 2012

Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane

I'm not sure how this book got into my personal library.  But there it was, and I felt the need to read it, as I feel about all the books on my shelves.  It was ok, but I can definitely tell that this was not something I would have picked out for myself.

A young boy grows up in Ireland.  At this time there is much talk about informers and war and other things that are a family secret.  A secret he is determined to figure out although it will take him years and he'll only get it in snippets.  With a mother who is a little bit crazy he also has a troubled homelife as well.  But really, the essence of this book is what life was like in Ireland in the 1940's and beyond.  It shows one boy's childhood amidst the troubling time.

Our narrator is ok.  He speaks a little old for his age but he's also supposed to be quite smart, so that is forgivable.  He really wants to know secrets and has that childlike curiosity that makes you feel as if he is a worthy character.  His poor mother, I just found her a bit odd and crazy and couldn't really understand her.  I got the impression that she was supposed to be normal at least part of the time, but I never really felt that way about her.  And his father, while silent and strong, isn't given as much time in this book and I thought that he could have really been an important character and used much better.  There are several brothers and sisters as well, but they also only play minor roles.

The plot had a definite theme, rooting out the family secret.  But it was quite broken up into chunks of months or years, with no real set timeline or consistency.  It made it hard to really absorb yourself in the book because you were reading one story when you were immediately thrown into the next.  That being said, the actual language of the book was terrific.  Very descriptive and almost poetic really.  I liked the tone it set.  And there are some hard themes in this book.  It talks a little bit about war and execution and dark secrets.  Nothing is greatly described in detail, but it is implied.

This was just a hard book for me to really sink in to and appreciate.  I can't say that I'd seek other books out by Deane, but if they magically appear on my bookshelf again I'll probably read them.

Reading in the Dark
Copyright 1996
246 pages



  1. This almost sounds like Angela's ashes, and that is in my top 5 fave books of all time. I'm gonna have to check this out, thanks!