There's something heroic in just getting through another year and the best Irish writers know it.
In Felicity Hayes-McCoy's series of books, which are written in the heartwarming style of bestselling authors like Maeve Binchy, there is nothing ordinary about ordinary people.
The latest chapter in her successful Finfarren series, Hayes-McCoy's name for the mythical peninsula on Ireland's west coast, "The Month Of Borrowed Dreams" introduces us to Hanna Casey, a recent divorcee turned librarian of a certain age whose city life takes on a new direction when she finds her barrister husband in bed with someone else.
Hanna has mixed feelings about being back in Lissbeg again, the little town she once fled in search of herself and some room to breathe, leaving behind her overbearing mother and her half-lived life.
Now she wonders if instead of being a figure of respect she is really just a figure of fun in the town, the marked woman with the philandering husband, a local joke.
You probably know her type, wounded but still determined, afraid to let anyone too close lest they see the real scale of her struggles. Hayes-McCoy makes Hanna a believable woman of the middle years, not a sainted paragon that would strain your credulity.
She also gives Hanna a bright young daughter called Jazz, who like her namesake is much freer of spirit, allowing tensions to take root in the relationship between the pair. Matters are not helped at all when the rug is unceremoniously pulled from under the young woman's life, making it an open question if she will stay in Ireland at all.
Things eventually come to a head when the local Lissbeg library, Hanna's main means of support, is suddenly threatened with unexpected closure. Having already begun a project to restore a half-ruined cottaged (restoring some of her lost dignity in the process) that was left to her by her great-aunt, it now looks as if her life in the town is reaching its natural end.
Even her budding romance with a local man, Brian, is threatened by the unexpected return of her unfaithful husband, Malcolm. It's all kicking off in Finfarren in other words, and the stakes couldn't be higher.
Human happiness is a thing worth striving for Hayes-McCoy reminds us, and that effort is made more effective by the welcome but wholly unexpected kindnesses of neighbors she once kept at arm's length, only to learn – later in life - the true meaning of home.
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