Whenever I read British literature, I find myself transported. It seems so foreign to me, even more so than reading the South Asian authors and Middle Eastern authors who I love, perhaps because I always feel like it should feel more similar to my own experience, since they speak the same language. So I’m surprised when I read a story just how different it is.
A Good Confession is set in 1950’s England and Ireland, and the setting is lush and rich and a very real part of the story. Cathleen Brogan is a young widow. Her husband has just died at less than 30 years old, and her life is suddenly changed. This is not a grief-stricken novel, although Cathleen often wonders – and echoes the fears that most of us hide – “What am I going to do now?” No, Cathleen does what she must to get by, including accepting help from her mother and sister, getting a job, and following her heart.
It’s this last part that gets her in trouble. When Mick Brogan dies, old family friend and cousin Jerry Brogan comes to perform the funeral mass. He and Cathleen met only once before, when he performed her wedding mass, but this time there’s a noticeable attraction, which puts both of them in a tough situation.
Mick’s death forces Cathleen to figure out who she is going to be. Her ties with others around her are strengthened, and the supporting cast of characters add interest and depth to her story.
Though it’s not a classic “page-turner,” Bridget Whelan’s prose and characters were compelling. A Good Confession was a delightful read, with only a few uses of bad language and mild sexual content that will appeal to those who enjoy romance, historical fiction, or British family sagas.
Jennifer Donovan loves to visit other places in the pages, since she can’t hop on a plane as often as she’d like to see them herself. When she does get the chance to travel she tries to blog about it on Snapshot.
I feel the same way you do in regards to British literature. I love the foreign feeling they give me…and I am very intrigued with the different vocabulary. 😀
This book sounds like a good read, and since I do like historical fiction and British family sagas…I really should give this book a read.
Now, I need to find a good system to help me remember this books amongst my HUGE tbr list. Any suggestions? 😀
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
I wish I had a system! I do not. We should have someone do an On Reading column on it.
Bridget Whelan says
Understand the problem. My must-read list gets longer every day (even though I do read a lot – professionally and for enjoyment)so I thought a virtual visit from the author might help bump Good Confession to the top of the list! But aside from blatant self-promotion, I actually dropped by to engage in the discussion about British books feeling so foreign, so ‘other’. I think that’s something most authors in the UK would not have appreciated – partly I suspect because we are so immersed in American/Canadian literature. I teach creative writing at university and in adult education and I can’t imagine going through a term without mentioning writers like Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood and Raymond Carver. So, we know you so well, even if we’ve never crossed the Atlantic, we kinda expect you to feel comfortable and at home in our world. One New Jersey reader got in contact to say how much she enjoyed the book but also mentioned that she was a bit irritated by the inclusion of British phrases she didn’t get and couldn’t I please Americanize it. She was actually referring to a couple of Irish expressions that would be foreign to British readers as well as American – included to give the texture of another culture. I don’t know though….should British books be “translated”? Would that make them more accessible – or would it rob them of the very quality that makes them worth reading?
I don’t want to anglicize Dashiell Hammett’s prose or make Chandler sound like a bloke from Brixton…
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
Bridget–this got caught up in the spam filter for some reason, and I just noticed it.
This would be a great interactive post for our On Reading column that runs each Sunday. I could link back to the review, and you could open it up to the readers.
I personally LOVE the “otherness” of it all. Why read books set elsewhere if you want it to be familiar?
Anyway–if you want to write a guest post, send it to me — 600 – 800 words is ideal.
This one sounds great. I need to add it to my reading list.