‘A story of friendship, a small town and a big secret…’
Today I am delighted to bring you all my review of the fourth novel from Irish writer Rachael English.
The Night of The Party is described as a ‘page-turning novel from a gifted story-teller, combining warmth, drama and an unforgettable twist’ and has just been published by Hachette Ireland.
Rachael English is known to many of us as a presenter on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland, but she has also worked on many current affairs programmes over twenty years as a journalist.
Coming from a family of story-tellers, Rachael English has the ability to bring you back to old familiar days, invoking nostalgic emotions throughout the story.
Please do continue reading for my full thoughts on The Night Of The Party….
January 1982: In the village of Kilmitten, the Crossan family are holding their annual party during the biggest snowstorm Ireland has seen in decades. By the end of the night, the parish priest, Father Leo Galvin, is dead.
The lives of four teenagers – Tom, Conor, Tess and Nina – who had been drinking beer and smoking in a shed at the back of the house, will never be the same. But one of them carries a secret from that night that he has never shared.
The friends go on to lead very different, separate lives – some quiet, others in the media spotlight – but the four remain connected by what happened during the time of the big snow.
As the thirty-fifth anniversary of Father Galvin’s murder approaches, Conor, now a senior police officer, becomes obsessed with the crime his father failed to solve. He believes that Tom can help identify Father Galvin’s killer. But does Tom wish to break his silence?
His dilemma draws the four friends back together, forcing them to question their lives and to confront their differences.
I read the final page of The Night Of The Party with the realisation that I was really going to miss Tom, Conor, Nina and Tess. Rachael English took me on a trip down memory lane as we meet four friends, twelve years of age, all on the cusp of their teenage years, all excited at the prospect of what lay ahead.
1982 saw Ireland hit by one of the biggest snow storms ever, with massive repercussions around the whole of the island. Rachael English uses this historic event as the backdrop of her story. January of that year, the town of Kilmitten, in the county of Clare on the West Coast of the country, was almost shut down with the volume of snow that arrived. For the adults it was of huge concern and a major inconvenience for many, but for the school children of Kilmitten life could not get any more exciting
‘They had never seen anything like it. The first snowflakes arrived on Thursday afternoon. Before long the flurries blurred into a steady fall, the snow folding itself around Kilmitten until everything was white….Snowballs went zinging through the air, while kids on makeshift sleds – here a coal sack, there a tea tray – zoomed down Toomey’s Hill.’
For Tom Crossan, early January had always been the time his parents had an annual party ‘It’s such a miserable month, they’d say. People need cheering up’ and the snow was not going to deter them. As his parents organised the festivities, Tom and his best friend, Conor, had other ideas up their sleeves. Slipping a few cigarettes and a bottle of beer discreetly out of his parent’s stash, Tom sets up the garden shed for a rendezvous with Conor, Tess and her best friend Nina, This would be their own secret hideaway to have a little innocent fun, while all their parents would be socialising in the main Crossan household.
But this was to be the night where the course of their lives changed forever. The local parish priest Father Leo Galvin is found dead in Tom’s house. No witnesses, no clues, no hidden vendettas, no reason for such a violent crime, in a small town in the West of Ireland.
But someone did see something and a decision to remain silent becomes an act that will have repercussions for the lives of all involved for years to come.
The years pass and the people of Kilmitten move on with their lives. ‘Who did kill Father Galvin?’ is a story that remains a topic of conversation, but the memories fade and life goes on.
For the four friends – Tom, Conor, Tess and Nina – their lives veer off in different directions and the contact between them dwindles. Circumstances lead to falling’s out and disappointments, but underneath it all the four are bound together through the unbreakable strength of a childhood friendship.
Thirty-five years after the murder of Father Galvin, Conor begins to wonder what really did happen that fateful night in 1982. His father was the acting Garda (police officer) in charge on the night and now that Conor is himself in a senior position on the force, he decides to re-look at the case that left such a mark on his early teenage years.
He looks to his three friends to assist him and to recall exactly their memories of the night in the hope of unearthing some new information. But he soon finds out that there are some secrets that are buried very deep indeed!
The four friends now live very different lives but soon discover, that although the years have passed, it’s not too late to reignite their friendship. First though, they must unearth the truth and finally expose what did happen in the parish of Kilmitten in January 1982…..
The Night Of The Party is a very engaging story about the importance of friendship. It is also a story about a small community and the secrets hidden behind closed doors. Ireland has changed almost beyond recognition since those early days of the 1980’s and Rachael English documents these changes through the lives of the four friends and the rural community of Kilmitten.
Charming. Captivating. Heartwarming.
Purchase Link ~ The Night Of The Party
Rachael English is the author of three best-selling novels. Her first book, Going Back, was shortlisted for the most-promising newcomer award at the Irish Book Awards. Her most recent novel, The American Girl, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. A journalist for twenty-five years, she started her career with Clare FM and has been a reporter or presenter on many of RTE radio’s best known programmes.
She currently presents Morning Ireland.
Her most recent novel, number four, The Night Of The Party, is OUT NOW with Hachette Ireland.
Twitter – @EnglishRachael
Facebook – Facebook.com/RachaelEnglishWriter