The Good People by Hannah Kent – Book Review.

Title: The Good People

Author: Hannah Kent

Rating: 4/5

Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Gothic, Literary, Irish Fiction


As a reviewer with Irish roots, I’ve always been drawn to tales set in the Emerald Isle. After visiting Ireland a few times, and exploring the Ring of Kerry and the mountains around Dingle, there is a clear sense of ancient magic and wilderness that just oozes from this beautiful country.

So when I was skipping through my Kindle feed (yes I read on the Kindle half the time. With my newest handbag being a Chanel Jumbo, I find it much easier to carry a small Kindle around rather than a beefy paperback), I stumbled upon The Good People by Hannah Kent and immediately got sucked into the story.

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Set in a valley in County Kerry, Ireland, The Good People intertwines folklore, religion, and science in this female-led narrative which is heavily based on their belief of ‘The Good People’ – fairies and creatures that live and cause illness/misfortune to people.

When Nóra’s husband Martin dies and leaves her a bereft widow in the rural community of Crohane, misfortune seems to fall across the valley like a toxin. The cows don’t milk, the crops keep failing and a stillborn baby is delivered, all to the horror of the local population. And fingers and rumours are drawn towards Nóra’s house, as she hides a terrible secret. Her grandson, Micheál – a once thriving boy – has been delivered back to Nóra after the death of her daughter. But much has changed with the boy. The child is unable to walk, speak or even properly communicate, which baffles Nóra as she struggles to bond or care for the boy that was apparently her grandson. However, it is soon suggested that the real Micheál was stolen away by ‘The Good People’, who left a fairy-child – a changling – in their midst. So, it is up to Nóra, her hired help Mary, and the local wisewoman Nance Roche, to sort out the changling child once and for all. But with a new priest in town who disapproves of this so-called heresy over the plight of what he considers to be an ill child, time is running out for these three women.

I’ve found with Kent’s writing that she enjoys writing about female-led stories in which turmoil is mixed in with a dose of reality, as this and her other novel Burial Rites, all deal with stories that have a basis in fact. The worries about ‘The Good People’ were held by Irish people at this time, as were the conflicts that the Church had with these almost pagan ideas. For me as a reader, I enjoyed the sense that what I reading wasn’t all fantasy and from the author’s imagination. It gave it a sense of realism.

What I enjoyed about The Good People was the feeling that Kent managed to draw upon. As the village is set in a closeted community in a rural area of Ireland, there is a real sense of isolation and claustrophobia throughout the text. It felt as though the reader was invading upon something that was very private. With the use of Gaelic words too, and a very apt vocabulary, Kent really goes that extra mile to bring the reader deeper into the Irish landscape.

The characters were all well-written too. The women all had deep layers of conflict, personal history, and individuality that made them all very unique to the story. I enjoyed how radically different some characters felt from the others too, as it presented each situation in a unique way as we read it. What Kent also doesn’t do – a strength here – is give a clear answer to the riddle of Micheál. The reader is left wondering whether a priest, a doctor or Nance’s influence would’ve solved the riddle, or what he actually is. This leaves a good ambiguity to the text which makes it memorable after the first read.

This novel was my first introduction to Kent as a writer, and I’ve happily purchased the rest of her books.

A fast-paced, enjoyable dive into the world of rural, pagan Ireland.

Holiday Guide -On-the-Go Travel Essentials To Pack.

Feature image credit – Design by Aikonik

 

With winter finally coming to the end, there is a definite feeling of spring cheer in the air. And with spring, the time for holidays/vacations is coming closer. Now, I love holidays (as you can tell by reading My Parisian Adventure and Roman Rendezvous posts) and after speaking with Tripping.com, I’ve been inspired to do a little blogpost about my on-the-go travel must haves for the train, plane or whatever automobile you use to get to your favourite destination.

1: Ear Plugs – 50 Pairs – £7.99

dewdpg12bg50As a light sleeper who cannot abide noise, I take earplugs wherever I go (I mean, even if I’m going to Uni and may fancy a nap on the train home everywhere). For
travel, these are perfect as you can just slip them in your wallet, and you can minimise other noise from fellow travellers, and hopefully get some good shut-eye if you’ve got a long journey.

I bought my earplugs at my local DIY shop (a hint – these are the same quality as you’d get in places like Superdrug/Boots, but for a fraction of the price) and I honestly always have at least two pairs with me at all times.


 

2: Portable Charger – Anker PowerCore+ mini – £10.99power_a1104011black_nd01

I think like everyone nowadays, carrying a portable charger isn’t something that’s particularly unusual anymore. For long journeys where a plug socket may be unusable or sharing a car etc. a portable charger is a life saver for long jo
urneys, especially for people who use Kindles or iPods. I bought my little charger off Amazon, and for its tiny size, I’ve been pleasantly surprised over how much charge I can fit in.


 

3: A Book – £6.99+

In being an English student, this probably would514hikoe-jl-_sy344_bo1204203200_n’t surprise many people. But by the amount of people I see on both public transport, and travelling on holiday who don’t have a book does amaze me. I take a book everywhere I go, and even if I’ve got a five minute journey or a five hour journey, I can read the entire time. However, for the longer journey’s I have to be careful over what book to take with me, as size and quality does make a difference. At the moment I’m rereading ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Thing’ by Ned Vizzini, but at the end of this month, I’m going to London for a week and shall need some good reading material.


 

4: Baby Wipes – £1+

These are also crucial for my travelling routine, especially when using sometimes grimy public transport. These wipes can also be used to freshen your face up on a long-haul flight, take your makeup off and just make you feel slightly more awake.


 

5: Makeup Essentials – £37 (Together)

I don’t enjoy travelling with much or any makeup on, but I always take a few products everywhere I go, just in case I want to look a tad less tired. These include my faithful Bourjois 123 Perfect Colour Correcting Cream, Soap and Glory Thick and Fast Mascara, EOS Lipbalm in Strawberry Sorbet, NYX Soft Matte Lipstick in Cannes and my Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair. With these five products, I know I can always look slightly more put together and awake.

 


 

6: A Toothbrush and Mt_401ini Toothpaste – £2+

With travelling, it can be hit or miss when it comes to delays. And for some unlucky people, these delays can be hours of waiting around. By taking a toothbrush with me, I can always make sure I feel minty fresh and know my dental hygiene is being taken care of.

 

Winter Wardrobe – Adore Me and My Top 3 Outfits.

With the winter months closing in, and the glint of Christmas on the horizon, there is no doubt in my mind that my favourite time of year is officially here.

Now, my life is pretty hectic at the moment. I’m a full-time Masters Student, who has two other side jobs, along with maintaining time to see my friends/boyfriend. So, when the lovely sleepwear team at Adore Me reached out to me and invited me to do a flat-lay piece (something I’ve always wanted to do, but never tried it yet) about some of my favourite lingerie/outfit ideas, I thought it would be a great idea to incorporate three of my typical outfits all in one post.

So here are my three go-to looks for the big areas in my life:

Work/University

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When I go to University/Work, I find that I want to look smart but ultimately be comfortable. This navy dress is knee-length, so I usually pair it with some tights and a cardigan, and with the statement lace collar, I find that that’s enough of an accessory to make my outfit complete. For a smarter look you could dress it up with a blazer and heels, but I usually go for flats. These black ballet pumps are always going to be classic, yet the sweet cat face gives the shoes a quirky touch to dress it up. For lingerie, this bra is a go-to for me. I love it so much, I have the same design in a number of colours. With minimal detailing on the cups, it doesn’t show through the fabric of the dress, yet gives me enough boost and support to make it ridiculously comfortable.

Date Night

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Like most girls in relationships, I love dressing out and going out with my boyfriend for dinner/dates. For date-night outfits, I try to keep it quite simple, and let my heels/jewellery do the talking. This simple LBD is a really tried-and-tested favourite of mine, and with the simple neckline but statement cutout sides, I feel it gives the dress some edge. My heels are these gorgeous lace-up booties, which are ridiculously cute but always quite comfortable. If I want to make this into quite a fancy night out, I may wear some statement tights, or even fishnets to make it a little sexier.

This bra is the ultimate thing in padding and push-up. The deep red colour makes it feel quite saucy to wear, and I always feel at my fanciest whilst wearing it.

Loungewear.

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With Christmas fast approaching, I love digging out some Xmas jammies and getting cosy for a night by the fire. These pyjamas are new, but I can really see myself living in them for the next few months. The Grinch is one of my favourite Christmas movies, and I just couldn’t say no to them in the shop. This polka-dot bra is another really cosy piece of lingerie that I love wearing. With minimal padding, it feels almost like a bralet/sports bra, which is perfect for those lazy evenings. I also find the thicker straps to be really comfortable to wear.

This was a super fun post to do, and I really found it fun to think and pair my outfits together.

Visit Adore Me for a subscription service for lingerie and underwear! For all sizes and all types, Adore Me will blow you away with their amazing prices and deals.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – Book Review

Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Author: Robert Galbraith

Genre: Detective Fiction/Murder-Mystery/Whodunnit/Crime Fiction

Rating: 4/5


“How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.”

When set against the greats such as Christie’s Poirot, Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Chandler’s Marlowe, the detective in crime fiction certainly has standards to live against. And through all these mysteries, whodunnits, kidnapping, exortion, missing persons and good ol’ fashioned murders, readers begin to wonder if there can ever been a new detective who can rival these. But fear not! For in 2013, under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, our favourite magical writer J.K Rowling published The Cuckoo’s Calling, and gave us a detective with more issues than Vogue.

When, on one snowy night, the supermodel Lula Landry plunges off her Mayfair balcony, her death sends shockwaves through the press and celebrity world. Written off as a desperate suicide bid, the case seems closed on this tragic event, and her family are left to grieve the loss of their daughter. However, when her brother seems to have his doubts, and begins to suspect murder, he starts his own search and enlists the skills of private investigator, Cormoran Strike. Strike, a hulking war veteran with both physical, and psychological injuries, and whose life seems to on a downward spiral, initially takes on the case for pure financial gain. Yet, as he becomes involved in the secret world of the celebrity, and what the glitz and glamour hides to the public, Strike begins to piece together Landry’s last few hours, and whether it was a cry for help, or something far more sinister.
Like the traditional murder-mysteries, it does follow a familiar pattern of the description of the murder scene, introduction of the detective, being employed to take on the case, the long witness questioning, and narrowing down of events until the detective reveals what happened, and although it does follow this pattern down, it never seems to be dull or dip in interest at any time. Galbraith (as I will be calling the author) was very methodical in his approach to narrowing down the case, and making Strike research every possible avenue, so the reader benefits from every aspect of this case.

The characters in the novel truly have clearly been clearly thought out, and almost birthed by the author to make actually fully-fledged individuals, each with their different flaws and situations.
Cormoran Strike is one of those characters who you warm too and find yourself wanting to meet such a person. His complex life and back-story is played out so well, that it doesn’t feel as though you’re being fed information, but you just pick up on it and piece a person together in your own time. For the reader, his grumpy and less than perfect personality makes him even more lovable, and there are points when you do just want to slap him due to his argumentative side.
With Robin, Strike’s assistant, she is also a figure of great intrigue. A perfect counterpoint to Strike, as she is a woman who knows her own mind, is highly intelligent and determined and uses her own initiative throughout the text, which makes her an invaluable piece in the case.The working/friendship relationship between Robin and Strike is also one of ups and downs throughout the novel, but plays back-fiddle enough to make it not too in your face, but enough to keep it interesting.
The other characters, and most interestingly, the deceased figure of Lula Landry do each get significant parts of the novel dedicated to the exploration of who they are and why they are driven into being important to the crime. What I find interesting is that Lula, despite being dead before the novel even starts, her story is revealed right throughout the novel, and at the end, she feels like one of the most alive characters going.
Also, it’s interesting to see how Galbraith portrays the media circus around the case. Due to the death being one of a famous model in such a dramatic circumstance, bringing the media back into the threshold of the possible murder is a constant weapon that Strike is aware of throughout the entire narrative. It makes the novel feel tense, and that if a slip-up could happen, it couldn’t be hidden.

The language used throughout the novel flows well, and draws the reader in, and only releases its hold until the last page has been turned over. Galbraith is very good at describing people as well as transcribing accents and dialects, which does add to the realism of the text. The author also describes the city of London in a convincing and realistic manner, and does make you feel that you, the reader, is right next to Strike as he runs through dark allies and into abandoned houses.

I found this novel to be highly readable, very interesting, a complete page-turner and also complex enough that you do keep guessing what actually happened until the very end. And as this is a first in the series, I can expect great things from Strike and Galbraith. This particular book is available now, along with the sequel.

So, if you as a reader, enjoyed:

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Then you’ll love this!

Links:

Buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

Author’s Website – Click Here

Author’s Twitter – Click Here