Welcome to this blog stop on the blog tour for The Reckoning by Clár Ní Chonghaile!
Title: The Reckoning
Author: Clár Ní Chonghaile
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Legend Press
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Legend Press via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Summary: Set between the years leading up to World War I, all the way into the 90’s, we follow the life of Lina, a 70 something woman who was born shortly after World War I, and survives World War II, along with her parents and fiancé, only to lose him to suicide a couple years later, and her parents in a tragic accident a few months after that. In her grief, she decides the only way to escape it all is to walk away from what remains of her life entirely and start anew. She begins by giving her 14-month-old daughter up for adoption. The book consists of letters she has written to that daughter, explaining all the circumstances that led to her choice, and all the things that happened afterwards.
Review: This is one of those books that started off on the wrong foot for me. The narrator was a bit pretentious, and sometimes it felt as though someone – narrator or author is unclear – was “trying too hard”. However, knowing that first chapters tend to be the roughest, and committed to giving it at least 10% before setting it aside, I continued. Once again, perseverance paid off! Lina did take some getting used to, and I still found her rather irritating from time to time, she eased up and let go of some of that “shell” as she let go of herself and embraced her past. And admittedly, it becomes clear from the start that she gave her young daughter up for adoption, and because of her age (14 months old!), the mother in me was judging her for what felt like abandonment. And in the end, I was reminded of the dangers of judging without context.
Much of the historical fiction I read falls during one of the two World Wars, and that is because it interests me, but also because there is a ton of it out there. But this book isn’t like those books. For one, it goes beyond Europe and America, touching on the involvement of the East, even Africa. Also, Lina becomes a war correspondent and covers the conflicts that came after, taking us through war history in more recent decades. And through it all, we see a really thorough examination of her life, and of the times, in a way I haven’t seen in other books written about the same time period. The character development is superb. Lina’s humanity is laid bare, and through this most vulnerable act of exposing herself fully, she reminded me of my own humanity, and the importance of forgiveness and empathy.
If you love historical fiction and/or character driven novels, I simply can’t recommend this book enough.