The fieldsThe Fields is set in 1980s Dublin and London and tells the vividly evocative story of Jim Finnegan’s unfairly interrupted adolescence.
Ireland is a divided country, the Parish Priest remains a figure of immense authority who commands absolute respect, and Jim Finnegan is thirteen years old, the youngest in a family of five sisters. Life in Jim’s world consists of dealing with the helter-skelter intensity of his rumbustious family, taking break-neck bike-rides with his best friend, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar. But after a drunken yet delicate rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ at the Donohues’ raucous annual party, Jim captures both the attention of the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue and the unwanted desires of the devious and dangerous Father Luke O’Culigeen.
There are wonderful examples of Dublin humour when he is calling the parish priest or the back and forth banter at the Sunday lunch so much so that reading it made me feel like I was back in Dublin. The setting of the book is a South Dublin suburb I know very well, including the nightclub in Leopardstown and Maher descriptions are evocative and bring back vivid memories for me.
The humour continues through the story however the story takes a dark and serious turn once it develops and the abuse by the priest begins.
In this story Kevin Maher deals with two of the major issues in 21st century Ireland: sexual abuse by priests and abortion, issues that are still at the forefront of Irish life in 2013.
Little Brown/£12.99/ 9781408704165
Sheila O’Reilly