Author: Peter Murphy
A debut novel concerned with 1980’s Ireland, Lagan Love depicts Dublin in all its nuances and moods through the eyes of French Canadian painter Janice Tremblay, traveling to Dublin to attend Trinity College. Janice meets Sinead at Trinity and pours out her homesickness to her cynical Irish acquaintance. Enter one of Dublin’s rising poets, Aidan Greeley, who has just come off dating Sinead. Aidan and Janice find themselves symbiotically attached, as Aidan fancies her when they flirt on the streets of Dublin. Shy, introverted Janice becomes someone else in Aidan’s company – the flirty woman she wants to become. As they enter into artistic lust and love, Aidan decides to give up Gwen, his wealthy and strangely seductive patron, who is married to Maurice, who allows Gwen her sexual freedom, and then some. Maurice and Gwen are entwined into a strange, almost demoniacal alliance, assisting poor artists, but taking their due in return. Maurice has published Aidan and put him into the Dublin art scene as the up and coming young artiste of the day, but when Aidan gives Gwen Janice in order to get out from under her patronage, the true Irish myth and story begins.
Aidan believes Gwen to be a Lenanshee, a Muse who gifts fame and fortune to her protégé – if the person she chooses falls in love with her. In return, Gwen takes the life of that protégé at a very young age. As Aidan drops Gwen, whom he has never loved, he passes Janice into her care. Aidan’s career dies a quick death, but Janice’s paintings become the new and only art to collect worldwide. Caught between the two women, Aidan is the pivot upon which Janice succumbs to an old Irish myth.
Disturbing, full of great dialogue and Irish tradition, we find ourselves on the streets of Dublin drinking a pint with Ronan and Sinead, who become friends and try to save their friends from doom. As the Aidan, Ronan, Sinead and Janice flounder through their lives, Ronan and Sinead watch with horror as Janice and Aidan find themselves thrust into the hands of deceptive Gwen and Maurice.
Interesting at all times, Lagan Love pursues Ireland as does the Lenanshee, pouring out its heart within the souls of the drunk, the gifted, the dead, and the lone survivors – Sinead and Ronan. The financial and political turmoil of 1980’s Ireland forms the backdrop.
“Evoking the days when the love for Ireland was hidden in the lyrics about a beautiful woman in the classic 15th century song, My Lagan Love, Murphy’s freshman novel reveals the complex layers of his homeland – as bracing as a pint on a chilly Dublin evening,” states Tracey Minsky.
Good read, nicely done.