‘Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage? David thought so. But when his wife Mary Rose dies suddenly he has to think again..’
– Nothing But Blue Sky
[ About the Book ]
Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage?
David thought so. But when his wife Mary Rose dies suddenly he has to think again. In reliving their twenty years together David sees that the ground beneath them had shifted and he simply hadn’t noticed. Or had chosen not to.
In the midst of his grief David finds himself seeing Mary Rose anew – and realizing that the woman he loved might have been thinking very differently about her marriage, and her husband.
Nothing But Blue Sky is a precise and tender story of love in marriage – a gripping examination of what binds couples together and of what keeps them apart.
[ My Review ]
Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon was published earlier this year on July 30th and was the first book to be published by Penguin Ireland under their new imprint Sandycove Press. It is a book that I have heard so much about as it was universally received with great acclaim, with author Christine Dwyer Hickey describing it as “Insightful and deeply moving”
Other reviews were to be as effusive –
“…an acutely observed portrait of a relationship….the novel is full of beautiful prose, powerful metaphors and astute observations of human behaviour….” Julia Kelly, THE IRISH TIMES.
“A piece of perfection – a subtle, thought-provoking investigation of a marriage. It rings true. It’s the best book I’ve read this year….” Sue Leonard, The Examiner.
“A beautiful read…… the writing is exquisite….there’s barely a page without a description or a phrase that’s worth re-reading…..MacMahon’s precise prose lifts the lid on the cliches and societal mores around our response to death, probing with a surgeon’s skill at the rawness underneath…” John Walshe, BUSINESS POST
Nothing But Blue Sky is an extremely emotive tale of grief in a marriage. Mary Rose tragically dies and her husband David is left to pick up the pieces. His life had revolved around Mary Rose and the expectation that she would always be there with him. Now, in his early fifties, he finds himself unexpectedly widowed and retired from his journalistic work with RTE. His friends all try to help David but grief is a journey many need to travel alone. David makes the decision to return to Spain, to Aiguaclara, a place that held very special memories, a place where David and Mary Rose were at their happiest.
‘Aiguaclara was our pit stop; it was the place where we mended ourselves, marinating gently in a brew of salt water and sunshine. In Aiguaclara, we paused to take stock of our lives, coming to terms with the passing of another year and making plans for the one to come. Aiguaclara was where we held our AGM; it was the place where all our most illuminating conversations took place, unplanned, over an extra bottle of wine on a random weeknight’
David recalls his younger years and the home he grew up in, a place where emotions were kept hidden and life was quite black and white. When David was first introduced to Mary Rose’s family, he was blown away by the freedom of expression, the shared sense of love, the openness within the family dynamic. He absorbed all this, grew from this, with Mary Rose always understanding David and knowing the difficulties he had in conveying his thoughts and feelings in a convivial environment. She was the yang to his yin. As David recalls their life together he becomes more aware of who Mary Rose really was. He thought he knew her but, through the reflections of others David has to face some very stark facts. Davis refers to how he was very much a work in progress when they first met up. He recalls how he had created an expected image for the world, a persona that he felt would benefit him in his professional and personal life. David’s childhood had a huge impact on his impressions of life but Mary Rose awakened something deep within him. She was a gentle, empathetic person with few negative thoughts for anyone. Mary Rose saw only good.
‘She had been born with a gift for happiness, and she had the privilege of growing up in a house that did nothing to dent it. Nothing had ever gone wrong for her, and she had no reason to think it would. If there was a weakness in Mary Rose, it was that expectation of hers that everything would work out just as she hoped. If I had a hidden strength, it was that I had no such expectations.’
A very introspective read, Nothing But Blue Sky takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey with David as he attempts to come to terms with his wife’s death. The grief is all consuming as David looks back on their years together and to a future without Mary Rose. Kathleen MacMahon weaves real-life events throughout the story adding an extra layer of authenticity to this gorgeous book that feels almost like a memoir, a true story. Spain is beautifully depicted bringing it very much alive for the reader with the scent and heat emanating off the pages.
Nothing But Blue Sky is a contemplative and soulful read, a tender exploration of love, a sensitively handled study of bereavement. We all lose people we love in our lives but the journey is a very unique one for each of us. A really special book and one I recommend to all, Nothing But Blue Sky is a challenging read but also very rewarding. An emotional and thought-provoking story, Kathleen MacMahon writes with a measured and delicate hand beautifully depicting a love story, a marriage, a tragedy.
[ Bio ]
Kathleen MacMahon is a writer and journalist.
Her first novel, ‘This is How it Ends’ was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Book of the Year award, as well as two Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards and was chosen by the public as runner-up in the RTÉ Liveline listener’s poll for Book of the Year 2012. Her second novel ‘The Long, Hot Summer,’ was published in 2015 with both critical and commercial success. Her third, published in July 2020, is ‘Nothing But Blue Sky.’
A former radio and television journalist with Ireland’s national broadcaster, Kathleen lives in Dublin with her husband and twin daughters.
Twitter ~ @KathleenMacM
wow this was a beautiful review Mairead. I loved it. placing this book in my TBR
Shalini that is just wonderful to hear. Thank you so much x