Ireland – The Hotel on Mulberry Bay – Melissa Hill

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Why a booktrail?

1980s, 2000s – A story of a hotel, a place, whose fortunes are closely linked to the family and the community who live there.

Story

Mulberry Hotel sits perched on a cliff top above a sweeping bay south of Wexford in Ireland. It was once the heart and soul of the area and the community but time and lack of money has seen a once great hotel and home become a shadow of its former self.

Sisters Penny and Eleanor Harte grew up there and although Elle moved away, she has never forgotten the happy times there. So when family tragedy strikes and she is forced to return to Mulberry Bay, she is heartbroken to see the heart of the community struggling.

But the Harte family are not done with it yet and neither are the local community. But is it the hotel or the family that they are trying to save?

. Place and Setting

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Wexford Coast and Eyre Square in Galway as featured in the novel

Mulberry Bay is sadly not real but it is very much inspired by a real life hotel and the home town of the author Melissa Hill. Cahir in Country Tipperary is the real life Mulberry Bay having inspired Mellissa to write her story of survival and community spirit.

Mulberry Bay

Perched high on a hill above a sweeping bay, and overlooking the pretty little seaside town with a sugarloaf mountain as a backdrop, the Bay’s Coastal location and seafront bedrooms were a perfect haven for tourists.

This is a place that the sisters Eleanor and Penny have grown up and loved ever since. Despite Penny moving away to London, it’s Mulberry Bay which has stayed in her heart. The hotel, a tourist haven was their home growing up and so memories are embedded in its walls and floating in the air all around.

The sense of community in this small seaside town is admirable. For family tragedy unites them all and a secret kept by Ned, the girl’s father is endearing. His memories of the good old days, and how life seems to be recorded in every single Beatles song in his collection is a heartwarming way to reunite a place with your life time memories across the decades.

Review – Susan

Read with a soundtrack of the Beatles – you will not regret it for this book has so many things to make you smile and show you how both places and music can really enhance your memories of your past.

I did think before reading that this might be a twee story – community spirit etc saving a failing hotel, but I was so wrong. It is SO much more than this and rather about protecting what you love and trying to do the right thing. Community comes together yes but not in the way you think. this is realistic and very heartwarming. A tear came to my eye with Ned and what he did. Elle and Penny I warmed to immediately and Anna of course who was their mother.

Set in Ireland I felt worked well for this novel as there’s something about the Emerald Isle and its people which really lends itself to this kind of story. When I realised it was based on the author’s hometown (although the hotel is not in dire straits) I immediately wanted to go in the hope that I could meet my very own Harte family and their friends.

Melissa if you ever need a travel buddy? …

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Juno and Juliet – Galway, Ireland – Julian Gough

juno and juliet

Why the booktrail?

University life in Galway makes for a nice literary journey. Especially if you were going to go there but didn’t – now you can!

Story in a nutshell

A romantic comedy, this novel features the characters Juno and Juliet, 18 year-old blonde twin sisters, who arrive at university in Galway from their Tipperary home, and each set off on a romantic odyssey.

Place and setting

The National University of Ireland in Galway Eyre Square - where they have arrived at the start of the book off the bus The bedsite in New Road Renmore - suburb of Galway where Mrs Flannery lives a mile from the docks
The National University of Ireland in Galway
Eyre Square – where they have arrived at the start of the book off the bus
The bedsite in New Road
Renmore – suburb of Galway where Mrs Flannery lives a mile from the docks

Aah those university days – perfectly captured here in the witty tale of two sisters who attend university and head straight first into their days of independence and freedom –

“We spent out first night in Galway in sleeping bags on the living room floor”

Galway is a small town with a large university so many people turn up to find a place to live. Juno and juliet turn up a week before and apparently that is late. Yes, well,  that sounds very familiar indeed. The bit with the sleeping bags too. Oh and the classic line –

A lucky few had parents with the foresight to give birth to them in Galway

The feelings of panic, sheer disbelief at being away from home and knowing that this will be home for the next however many years. The sheer number of people milling about looking as if they know what they are doing and you’re the only one that doesn’t. The tea and sympathy given to the who sisters is in very great demand.

The moment they find the flat will elicit a cheer as it’s been quite a journey and this is only the very first step.

The love affair with Galway begins and everything is seen through the eyes of two young sisters who cannot wait to start really living and really enjoying their new city.

An Irish Promise – Galway – Isabella Connor

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How revenge might be a dish best served cold but how love is a dish that appears on the menu when you least expect it.

Story in a nutshell

School bullies plagued the life of Rachel Ford so years later, she returns home in order to exact her revenge as she promised al those years ago. She wants to do something about the bullies who not only ruined her childhood but her life and that of her family. She is now an art historian but has never forgotten what happened in Kilbrook.

Australian actor Finn MacKenzie is also in Kilbrook and he has come to help his aunt with a school production. He seems to have a charmed life, yet behind this façade there is a lot behind the scenes. He and Rachel meet and sparks fly.

But what does Rachel do? blow her cover so to speak and her reasons for being in Kilbrook or give it another chance. For Kilbrook does not hold happy memories and Finn stands in the middle of her plans.

Place and setting

The Claddagh, Shannon airport and Galway Bay - Kilbrook is based around this area - idyillic and calm!
The Claddagh, Shannon airport and Galway Bay – Kilbrook is based around this area – idyllic and calm!

How you would feel returning to the village where all your bad memories are and where you spent the most unhappiest times of your childhood is a key question as you can imagine how Rachel must feel when you find out what the bullies did to her. Revenge might not be the most recommended result in this case but as we read Rachel’s thoughts in her diary, things started to clear.

Kilbrook might have been such a nice place – more like the Kilbrook she returns to had there been some person to have sorted out the bullies and stood up to them. This brings home how bullies can and do affect people’s lives and this doesn’t always stop in the classroom. Whilst you can understand Rachel’s wish to return, we feared for her having carried around this hatred for years.And why were they not stopped sooner?

But Kilbrook also has a wealth of places you’ll want to visit for real as they have such rural and country names such as the Fat Pheasant restaurant and the Gulliver’s cafe, Bracken hill – all sound like landscapes and places that you’d need to visit for real  – if only you could.

Finn is an actor from Australia  who comes into this setting all innocent and meets Rachel without knowing her story. It’s the sense of waiting to see him find out and his reaction to it that takes you further into the story and the nice Irish locations.

There are some lovely touches of local customs and beliefs such as the  Claddagh (symbolising love, loyalty and friendship). This is a ring but also “the shore”and is close to Galway city where the Corrib River meets the Galway Bay. Formerly a fishing village the Spanish Arch area was there the fish markets used to be.

Galway Harbour
Galway Harbour

The second book in the Emerald Isle series and I really think reading the first one is a must now since this was a good story to discover. Kilbrook and the Irish culture is always nice to hear about but the way in which a story of revenge and love was tied together in such an unassuming place was a nice touch and gave this ‘chick’lit’ novel edge. I actually hate the term chic lit and since this had some real dilemmas and questions in it, I’m loathe to give it such a title. This is romance of course but with Irish charm and I loved discovering where the bullies were now and how Rachel coped with meeting them years later.

St Patrick’s Day in books

Happy ST PATRICKS DAY!!!

Well today is of course St Patricks Day so what better way to celebrate than by reading a book set in Ireland/Northern Ireland?

Follow the map – image courtesy of Google Maps

Belfast

Dublin

Sligo

Galway

Tipperary

 

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BELFAST 

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Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson 

Jake Jackson and Chuckie Lurgan are good friends. But one is Catholic and the other is Protestant–their journey and experience around their sectarian set at a time when Belfast was in the middle of  ‘The Troubles’, this is a poignant and often very funny look at Belfast.

“All stories are love stories” is the first sentence of this book. It’s not a love story in the traditional sense but a delicious tribute to the city of Belfast.

DUBLIN 

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Broken Harbour by Tana French

In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin –  two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy at first thinks its a sad case of a man’s financial woes troubles ending in the slaughter of his family. But many things just don’t add up…

To make matters worse, this case is a strange and painful reminder of what happened to his own family at the same places, when they were kids.

SLIGO

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‘The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty’ by Sebastian Barry

The tensions surrounding the Irish struggle for independence lie at the heart of this novel set in the town of Sligo about the tensions surrounding the Irish struggle for independence

A man joins the British-led police force the Royal Irish Constabulary, but ends up being labelled a traitor. As a marked man he goes on the run, but he sneaks back to Sligo whenever he can.

This is his journey and more of 20th Century Ireland, and of a man and a country both fighting to exist.

GALWAY

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‘Juno and Juliet’ by Julian Gough

This is a story of identical twins during their first year at university which sees them adjusting to life in the city, drinking in the bars and sometimes attending classes A coming of age story in which Galway itself is one of the main characters.

TIPPERARY

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Tipperary by Frank Delaney  – A novel of Ireland

The story of an itinerant healer born in 1860 who travels the countryside dispensing cures, discovering the story of Ireland through its people, and witnesses at first hand, the birth of land-reform measures destined to lead to Irish independence.

When he falls in love with April Jones who rejects him and so he returns to Ireland and decides to preserve an abandoned estate in tipperary which may belong to april and her father. As he travels and works, he meets such figures as Charles Parnell and George Bernard Shaw.

This is the story of a man’s passion for the woman he loves is intertwined with his country’s emergence as a nation.

This is only  a short tour of Ireland. But just goes to show that a small country has a wide wide range of literature and is covered with books set in various places all over its fair green isle!
Happy St Patrick’s Day!!!