Thursday, 17 March 2016


3 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Review Team

In this light, nostalgic story set in rural Ireland, Derek and his four best friends from university (John, Bill, Sarah and Sinéad) spend five days camping together, to be joined by six more on the second night.  Amongst those expected is Derek's current girlfriend, Ana.  Although he is looking forward to having someone to sleep with, Derek would rather she wasn't coming; he has decided he is in love with Sinéad. 

This is an easy, relaxing sort of book, and has some pleasing detail of the flora and fauna of the surroundings, which, I imagine, is written from the author's experience.  The prose itself flows nicely, is well put together as far as sentence structure and grammar are concerned, and I liked the philosophical ponderings of the main character. 

On the whole, alas, I'm afraid I found the book a little flat.  The first twenty per cent-plus is an account of how the five spent their first night and next day on holiday.  O'Brien introduces the characters by saying which companies they work for and where they come from, etc, and by giving the reader a run-down of their character traits.  I thought their personalities would have been better illustrated by sharp, character revealing or amusing dialogue, or some conflict; as it is, the dialogue is just chat, the narrative no more than a mildly interesting snapshot of a group of young people spending time at the beach and going to the pub in the evening.

When the six other people turn up there are six more passages about home towns and employers and character traits.  Sadly, I found few of the eleven personalities distinguishable from one another. 

The book does pick up after about thirty per cent, with more plot: Derek's romantic/sexual quandary, a confession by one character and some discord between another couple.  However, I didn't feel the potential of any of these situations was fully explored.  A catastrophic event happens near the end, but even that is dealt with in a mild sort of way only. 

I'm sorry not to be more positive; the book is pleasantly written and does have a certain charm, but there is far too much mundane detail all the way through, and not enough depth or character development.

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