An intense exploration of love and uncertainty when a long-married couple, Gerry and Stella, take a midwinter break in Amsterdam to refresh the senses, do some sightseeing and generally take stock of their lives. Their relationship seems easy, familiar - but over its course we discover the deep uncertainties between them.
Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories that resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. As their vacation comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are - and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.
Bernard MacLaverty is a master storyteller, and this is the essential MacLaverty novel: compassionate observation, elegant writing and a heartrending story. It is also a profound examination of human love and how we live together - a chamber piece of resonance and power.
"A work of extraordinary emotional precision and sympathy.... Full of scenes that are rendered with exquisite accuracy and care...this is a novel of great ambition by an artist at the height of his powers." (Colm Tóibín)
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Good but not great
Best listen of 2017