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Novel set in County Mayo and Liverpool, plus interview with Nadine Dorries

17th June 2016

Ruby Flynn by Nadine Dorries, novel set in County Mayo and Liverpool.

Drama and secrets…

Set mainly near Doohoma Head, County Mayo, but also with visits to Liverpool, this wonderful story sweeps the reader through Ruby Flynn’s early life in the 1950s.

novel set in county mayo and liverpool

Ruby Flynn is a feisty (for her time) girl who, following the loss of her family, is brought up in a convent, and then sent off to a service role at the local castle. This engaging story follows her through her making of friends (and a few enemies) at the convent, and how she makes a pact with those friends that one day they will be free to live as they want to in their beautiful Ireland.   In the meantime she is sent to work at the castle, where she makes some shocking revelations, wonders at the story behind the ancient curse and finds new friends and foes.

Set mostly in rural Ireland, where the rainy days are as integral part of this story as the seemingly fewer beautiful sunny days, most of the transport is by horse and cart, with the occasional motor vehicle and bicycle – and this speed of transport is also repeated in the story. There are many wonderful chapters at the pace and loveliness of the horse and cart. Sometimes there is the drama of the motor car speed, and then there is the exhilaration of a bicycle flying through the beautiful Irish scenery.

Each chapter ends neatly (no cliff hangers here), so this book is perfect for reading in short chunks. However within the chapters treachery and secrets abound with loyalty, love and loss also playing their parts. The poverty of rural Ireland at this time is well described, together with the friendliness of the people and their willingness to share and help each other – whilst telling a story or two.

In contrast to the life and surroundings of the castle are the chapters based in Liverpool, where the Lord of the castle is starting up his shipping business. The hustle, bustle and excitement of Liverpool in the 1950s is great reading, and the differences and similarities of his two worlds (life at the castle and in Liverpool) make great reading, and give plenty to think about if you are that sort of reader.   Lots of information about both locations to interest any reader.

For me this was a book written in the style of the Bronte sisters, but with a modern approach. I was swept away into the story from the start, and absolutely loved every moment of it.

Apart from one mild sex scene near the end, there is no sex, violence or bad language. Just wonderful page-turning story.

Buy it, read it and keep it on your bookshelves for ever!

Emma for the TripFiction Team

And over to Nadine who has kindly agreed to answer our questions:

TF: My first question has to be (and I am sure you get asked this question all the time!), how do you bring together all the strands in your life, family, writing and being a British Member of Parliament? What do you do in your down time to switch off and relax?

ND: Well, I obviously have to organise my time very carefully and I’m not going to say that is easy. If I didn’t have such a strict diary secretary, I’m not sure how I would survive. Having said that, there are routines I follow. I’m an early riser and I start writing very early in the morning. I didn’t start to write until my youngest daughter left home. Suddenly, the house was spotless and my roles as chauffeur, cook and maid were redundant. I supposed I traded mothering for writing.

TF: The driver behind TripFiction is setting. You have wonderfully captured the languorous (and rainy) essence of Ireland in the 1950s. Please tell us a little more about your connection to the country.

ND: I spent a huge amount of my childhood, all of my school holidays, in Mayo with my Irish grandmother in a tiny village. It rained so often, I thought I might grow a set of gills! I can still smell the wet peat. I was there so often, I had to attend the local school and that was an education in itself. I could not believe that it was 1960s and some children walked to school without shoes. The teacher (whose nickname was ‘the Conemarra donkey’) used the cane freely, too freely, and I was terrified. The treatment of children at the school was a stark juxtaposition to the amazing friendliness and affection of the people. It was a crazy place and I loved it. I still do.

TF: The bustle of Liverpool is wonderfully rendered. Your next book The Angels of Lovely Lane is also set there. How did you go about researching the era?

ND: I was born in Liverpool and spent all of my formative years there. I am also a trained nurse and worked in a number of Liverpool hospitals. My entire family is Liverpool, Liverpool/Irish and I almost feel as though I cheat when I write about Liverpool as it is my home.

TF: When you write, do you have the storyline planned out, or does it evolve as you write?

ND: The Angels of Lovely Lane is a series, and for a while I shall live with the characters buzzing around in my head. It all evolves as I write. I have never planned anything, which is a very scary approach!

TF:  What is next for you in terms of travel, work and writing?

ND: A bit like a teacher, I am lucky enough to have a long summer break. I will head off to somewhere warm – it is always the case that I write better and more freely when away from the UK. I think that’s true for many writers. I’m not sure if it is the interference of everyday life, or email, or routine which clogs things in the UK, but that break from home really does inspire and feed the creative juices.

Thank you so much for answering our questions: Nadine’s next book “The Angels of Lovely Lane” is set in 1950s Liverpool. You can connect with the author via Twitter and Facebook.

And do come and say hello to Team TripFiction via Twitter (@tripfiction), Facebook (TripFiction), Instagram (TripFiction) and Pinterest (TripFiction)… and now YouTube

For more books set in County Mayo, click here and for Liverpool here

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  1. User: joan rohm

    Posted on: 27/06/2016 at 8:22 pm

    could not put the four sisters down my sister sent it to me from the UK I was born in Dublin Ireland raised in Liverpool UK