Talking Location With author Charlotte Rixon – Newcastle
Novel set in Almeria and Andalusia (A Guiri* and more in SPAIN)
30th August 2013
Mr Lynch’s Holiday by Catherine O’Flynn, novel set in Almeria and Andalusia
A charming novel that transports the reader to the Almeria/Andalusia region of Spain.
To the urbanisation of Lomaverde, to be precise, where a mix of expats has bought property with beautiful views across the landscape. But the beauty stops there. This is a development where the building works have stopped, the developer has ceased trading, where roads fade into rocky tracks and where swimming pools, once the pivotal feature of the ex pat lifestyle, are leaking water. Cats prowl about, cracks in the infrastructure appear, and shadowy figures flit among some of the ruined housing.
Eamonn and Laura have bought into the Spanish Dream, but are having time apart. Dermot, Eamonn’s Father arrives for an unannounced two week stay with his son, his first trip ever ‘abroad’.
This is the story of their juggled co-existence and coming together, the sharing of their joint history and reflections on their journey through life, both as individuals and as a parent/child. It is a mesmerizing portrait of a Father/Son relationship, the irritations, the shorthand of communication, the ease of co-existing, the frustration of personality quirks. And their shared loss of Kathleen, wife and mother.
And all set in the countryside of Southern Spain, which beautifully comes to life in the capable hands of author Catherine O’Flynn: the creaking heat, the people in the sometimes bleak surroundings, the rocky countryside, plus some interesting observations and asides: who, for example, knew of Boabdil The Unlucky before reading this book?
The author is eloquent in her use of language and description; take Dermot, who describes with vivid detail his surroundings: ‘The air was warm and filled with the sound of night creatures vibrating invisibly in the bushes around him. He turned his gaze upwards. He’d become accustomed to city night skies, a meagre scattering of greyish pinpricks in the strip of hazy orange above the streetlights. Here he felt himself pushed back into his chair by the spectacle of the limitless stars and constellations covering every part of the sky above him’. Or accompany Dermot and Eamonn to a Spanish Restaurant, where the menu has valiantly been translated into English – feast upon Landfill of Pork or enjoy Vaporized Fish…
This book really is full of gentle explorations, beautifully rendered relationships, set in a stunningly captured landscape.
One tiny issue: would a young man, Eamonn, of British/Irish descent from Birmingham, really refer to his Catholic Mum with the americanised version ‘Mom’ rather than ‘Mum’ or ‘Mam’?????
Interestingly, the flyleaf of our copy describes the bickering Brits who populate Lomaverde, and focuses on the ‘shocking secret’ that is revealed – the denouement might be a bit surprising, but it isn’t to our mind ‘shocking’. For us this novel is much more about the international flair that the expats bring (Inga from Sweden, for example) and how all the individuals are struggling with personal issues in a foreign, and occasionally, hostile environment.
* The term guiri is street slang used to describe the what is considered to be the stereotypical tourist or foreigner from Northern Europe and the Anglo-Saxon sphere.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
Treat to a tour of Spain via fiction with our recommendations (click on the covers to find out more):