There are a couple of things that drew me to this book that are not your typical reasons to want to read a novel. First of all, I stumbled upon Bernadette’s blog and realised that she is Irish. Second, I read on Amazon that she is the mother of four boys. Now, anyone who can manage four kids and not want to drown in a bucket of gin on daily basis is my hero. But a woman who has four boys and still manages to write a book is, basically, the brightest star in the sky.
Let me elaborate on the first point a bit.
Every Irish author I’ve read—and I’ve read a few—writes with nothing but empathy and (dare I say it?) love towards their protagonists. Maeve Binchy, Marian Keys, Colm Tóibín, Cecilia Ahern, even the eponymous James Joyce and Oscar Wilde are never judgemental towards their cheating, gambling, suicidal, alcohol abusing, eccentric main characters. They don’t find excuses on their behalf either. They simply accept that people are flawed. And we have to deal with that in life, as well as in novels. I’ve been drawn towards the compassion and warmth of Irish literature for as long as I can remember.
In It Started with a Snub, Bernadette has created a cast of characters that is as full of contradictions as any human beings I’ve ever met. Take Heather’s boyfriend, Graham, for example. He could be unbelievably selfish one minute, then he’d pick her up and carry her halfway from the pub to her house because her feet hurt. We’ve all met people like that, haven’t we? Some of us dated people like that for a long time. I’m not naming names and pointing fingers. It’s the sort of thing that could happen to anyone.
The story in Bernadette’s book, just as suggested in the blurb, revolves around Heather “…as she navigates the simple things in life, her inability to remember the code for the house alarm, odd driving habits, general musings on chick flicks, casualties in cooking, as well as her attempts to talk down the “mad farmer with the gun.”” There are dark times in Heather’s life too and they were treated with the sensitivity that, as mentioned above, I’ve come to expect from an Irish author.
There are a lot of characters in It Started with a Snub.
There are Heather’s family and her housemates, but also her workmates and the friends and girlfriends of her friends, still they come forward with their own voices and character traits. Here is a little sample of a dialog that springs out from the page:
“‘The other night I asked him to come up with three words to describe me and he came up with sexy, beautiful, funny – could he not have done better than that? Oh and don’t take offence at this but if I hear anything else about how amazing Heather is, I’ll lose it! She’s so strong, she’s so funny, she’s so amazing. I mean we even started talking about you in the lead up to getting down and dirty. He said you were like a ray of light. Ray-of-light… now there’s three words I would have been happy with…’
‘Sweet Jesus.’ Heather’s face felt like it was about to explode. ‘Please don’t talk about me before sex again.’”
Bernadette manages to carry us through the ups and downs of the narrative with a smooth and melodic voice that’s delightful to read.
One thing I’d like to point out, though, and that’s the only point of possible improvement for the books Bernadette would write in the future, is that the book was overly long for me. As much as I liked the bubbly way the characters talked, I found myself distracted at times from the plot with all the details they shared.
All in all, It Started with a Snub is a fantastic debut that finished very satisfactory (I’m not saying more!) and left me with the lingering pleasant sensation usually associated with having a drink with a friend.
It Started with a Snub was gifted to me by the author for an honest review.