The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
From Lisa McInerney, hailed by The Irish Times as “arguably the most talented writer at work in Ireland today,” comes The Glorious Heresies, a searing debut novel about life on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society.
When grandmother Maureen Phelan is surprised in her home by a stranger, she clubs the intruder with a Holy Stone. The consequences of this unplanned murder connect four misfits struggling against their meager circumstances. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father, Tony, whose feud with his next-door neighbor threatens to ruin his family. Georgie is a sex worker who half-heartedly joins a born-again movement to escape her profession and drug habit. And Jimmy Phelan, the most fearsome gangster in the city and Maureen’s estranged son, finds that his mother’s bizarre attempts at redemption threaten his entire organization.
Biting and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies presents an unforgettable vision of a city plagued by poverty and exploitation, where salvation still awaits in the most unexpected places.
One decision and one unexpected situation opens this book as it tells the tale of how one person’s choices effects the lives of many others. As the title hints, the book opens up the secrets and hypocrisy of the beautiful Ireland as we think of it through the Catholic Church, the working class, and the dark, brutal actions of the community of criminals that run rampant throughout the city, destroying lives in the process. Sex, religion, social stereotypes, and relationships are all highlighted in this twisted story of soul-searching as well as the ability to rise above expectations.
Although this novel is very character driven, they are developed in such a way that the plot continues to peak my interest and doesn’t leave me feeling as if I missed out on anything as I moved forward. It does jump quite a bit from each person’s perspective, but that’s what really allows you to gain a true understanding of the characters and their mindset. It took me weeks to finish this, as the feelings and decisions of the characters took quite the toll on me. I learned to care about the characters, understand their decisions (even when they completely screwed up), and appreciate the dark, twisted side that each one of them had. At some point, I even found myself liking the prostitute and the arsonist grandma… and that’s saying a lot.
The setting was diverse and detailed and I found myself understanding the reasoning behind bringing this story to Ireland and introducing me to a language and dialect that I’m not used to. Overall, this was a very raw, honest read that really highlights how easily one can destroy themselves and how that destruction isn’t easily contained and seeps to those around us, bringing all involved to their knees. In the end, I was left feeling hopeful for the relationship between Ryan and his dad, for Maureen finding her sense of self, and Georgie’s ability to move forward… Definitely not a light-read; it doesn’t leave me feeling happy and at ease when it’s over, but it does leave my heart and soul longing to do better, to be better, and to see the best in every situation.
Happy Reading Friends!!!
Thank you to Blogging for Books for this amazing read in exchange for my review!