Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review of THE SHOUTING MAN, by Fiona McShane

Fay O’Brien is a young woman driven by her desire to write. She is a successful writer living in Dublin with her husband Chris, who dies in a car crash soon after they move to Port Dubh. A harbor town she fell in love with, along with a little house on the cliffs that would be a perfect place to write. Where she persuaded Chris to move to. Where she found “It”, Alec Cusack, who raised sheep on the farm next door, and was a fisherman. Fay and Alec, both married at the time, fell in love at first sight.
Alec Cusack was called Crazy Cusack by the town folks. Now that I’ve read the whole book I understand why. The reason is presented in
snippets, laced throughout event after event. Soon after the death of Fey’s husband, Alec looses his wife. Kicked to death by a ewe she was helping Alec take care of on their farm. Fey was having a hard time with her writing that day. And to quote the author:
And then she heard the roar.
The wind was split with it, halted by it, as it cut through the afternoon. Even the ground seemed to reverberate, the whole land and Fey’s body alerted by the animal sound. It echoed across the rocks and hills and called her to standing and she ran, barefoot, from her garden and along the lane to the yard.
I felt this excerpt legitimized the title THE SHOUTING MAN. The man everyone shunned, feared, and called crazy, Fey admired, respected, and fell in love with. Even after learning about the island tragedy; Alec being accused of killing his parents on, Ewe’s Rest, the lighthouse island that they owned. Another spot Fey was drawn to because she felt it accommodated her writing.
There are many more tragedies in THE SHOUTING MAN not listed here. Many, many, more. All throughly covered, which made this a very long, time consuming read. I was patient to get to the end. It is a good story. Well written, and fully explained by the end. The deliciously descriptive writing transports you to Ireland. The scene is so well set, it becomes as important as the characters in the story. The characters are well developed as the story skips back and forth in time, layer upon layer, revealing each character in depth. The use of dialogue is superb.
What I had a problem with? I think this manuscript could use a little tightening up. It could afford to be shortened. Doesn’t need all the blow by blows, droning on and on. The analogy of the kitchen clock always telling the wrong time struck a sour cord in my reader’s ear, after reading the same analogy twice or more times. And, lastly, there was a little too much wishy-washy on the flipping from drama(!) to, “I’m right with the world”, to drama(!), to “I’m right with the world”.

I would read more of Fiona McShane’s books. I feel like her writing is only going to get better and better. I recommend THE SHOUTING MAN to my friends.