Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"Lagan Love" by Peter Murphy A Must Read for Chicagoans

Relationships. Myth and reality. What is true? Do appearances deceive? Do we know ourselves enough that we can know when we are being sincere or not? Can we lose ourselves in appearances; what we create, the persona we present to others? All of this comes into question in Peter Murphy’s novel, “Lagan Love” (Fiction Studio, June 7, 2011)

Set in Dublin, in a country of old history and faerie stories, of myth and legend, the characters alternate in their too real grasp of reality and their fear of the possibilities. What is real? What is not? When a young woman arrives in country, looking for a change of scene, for adventure, she quickly becomes caught up in a plot of her own making; a tangled skein of half-truths and deception masked by the excitement of a new place and a whole new beginning.

Is it only when you are away from home that you can become lost in making yourself over to better suit this new beginning, or was the threatened potential in you all along?

What begins as just a woman’s search to escape the mundane through travel becomes a dark tale of those she meets, how she changes until she no longer recognizes herself. Is this for the better? Are there lessons learned? Or has she become one of those who used her, in her turn, a user? This is up to the reader to decide. There is no shyness or pretension here. About sex, alcoholism, myth, love; relationships; this story makes you think. Are you a manipulator or the manipulated? Can you be both? Must you be either in any relationship? At time uncomfortable but always riveting.

In this first book by Dublin born, Peter Murphy, the story’s setting drives the plot. Only in Ireland, could reality and myth become so cleverly entwined. But beyond that, the story is honest and intense. There are no heros here. Every character is flawed and darkly so, but never painted as destined to remain so. Every character in this story is always looking in that mirror of self-perception, or actively aware of avoiding it. This is the story of a princess and a poet. He lives a primal existence on the dark and drunken edges, but hers becomes no less dark.

The author holds that mirror up for the reader too. Look there. What do you see? You may not be like any of the characters, but what kind of character are you? Are you brave enough to do more than observe life; to go down those dark alleys of the human psyche, to get dirty, then step back in surprise at the depth of darkness you may see in yourself?

Does geography and history make us who we are? Or do we change- are we formed by where we are, changed by who we meet? Do we, can we remodel ourselves to fit our own circumstances selfishly and then, manipulate circumstances to suit our own end? What price fame? What cost relationship? Everyone likes to think he is different- special, an original. What price to pay for that?

The title intrigues. “Lagan Love”. While Lagan may refer to the River Lagan, in Northern Ireland, the definition in the World English Dictionary: “goods or wreckage on the sea bed, sometimes attached to a buoy to permit recovery” makes me think- Perhaps, we are the goods attached in relationship so that we are not lost at sea...The best books are not forgotten because you can never stop thinking beyond the story. This is true of “Lagan Love”. Murphy is a natural storyteller. I look forward to reading more.


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