The Reckoning is a book that completely consumed me; you know that feeling when everyday life just gets in the way and all you want to do is hide in a corner and read your book? Well that’s exactly how I felt reading The Reckoning. I loved its central character Lina Rose. I think she may be one of my favourite characters ever in literary fiction. Yes, I loved her that much. Lina is brusque, selfish, flawed. She is also witty, courageous and full of humanity.
Lina is in her 70s when the novel opens. Written in the first person, she relates her experiences with whiskey which really humoured me.
In any case, at my age, whiskey might finally prove my equal. I’ve always won our battles before, still standing as the bottles spun off the table and onto the floor, empty, exhausted, submissive at last. I was proud of my prowess as a drinker. It was something I worked at, a professional badge of honour. But nowadays, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t end up on the floor myself.
Yet this narrative has a deeper meaning as it also relates to Lina’s survival instinct, an instinct that has pulled her through many tragedies, yet now at the end of her life she cannot run away anymore, rather she has to face the tragedies head on and the role she played in them. It is that that might finally prove her equal.
Lina is a successful, enigmatic author writing one last story; the story of her life and she is writing it for her daughter who she abandoned as a baby. What follows is a poignant narrative which brilliantly exposes the painful and emotional cost of war.
Nobody survives war intact, Diane. It is no accident that spelt backwards it is ‘raw’. War strips the skin off society, leaving the muscles, sinews, tendons and organs exposed. Its effects are irreversible because all who live through it are changed forever.
Writing a series of letters to Diane, her abandoned daughter, Lina reflects on the horrors of both the First World War and the Second World War. These reflections tore at my heart, vividly exposing the harrowing emotional cost of war; not just for those who fought in the conflicts, but also the emotional cost for their loved ones. It is a novel that explores post traumatic stress disorder and the irony and consequences of the Keep Calm and Carry On attitude.
Yet through these letters, Lina also tries to unravel if it was the tragic consequences of war that made her abandon Diane or if it was because she had failed as a wife and mother.
The Reckoning really is a brilliant but heartbreaking read. Full of an array of vivid characters, it is a novel about love, loss and also friendship. Thank you so much Clár Ní Chonghaile for writing The Reckoning; I loved it and will definitely be reading it again. I got so much from reading it first time around but I think I can get so much more from reading it again and again.
Thank you also to Legend Press, especially Lucy Chamberlain for inviting me to be part of The Reckoning blog tour; giving me the opportunity to read and review this great book.
The Reckoning was published on 15 October 2018, so it is available for you to buy now. I would urge you to do so!