The book that sent my emotions into overdrive…..
The Wacky Man by Lyn G Farrell
Published by Legend Press May 2016, following on from Lyn achieving the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Wacky Man is described as a ‘Raw, unflinching debut novel that journeys through one girl’s abusive upbringing and the catastrophic effects this can have’
I received my copy from Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Press and will be forever thankful to her for it.
This is a very, very special novel…..read on for my very emotional thoughts..
‘“My new shrink asks me, ‘What things do you remember about being very young?’ ‘It’s like looking into a murky river, I say.
Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone . .”
Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised.
As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?’
Amanda May, fifteen years of age, is the victim of terrible domestic abuse. Born out of a loveless marriage, Amanda’s story is one that made my heart bleed.
Seamus and Barbara, her parents, were the product of two very different backgrounds. Seamus, an Irish emigrant, works hard and is quite popular among his peers. He attracts the eye of Barbara, a young polite English girl. They date, Seamus drinks too much and too late Barbara realises the type of man she is with. Forced into a marriage against her wishes, Barbara makes do with Seamus’ drunken lovemaking ‘pawing at her in the dark‘ and general angry demeanor. She learns to sidestep him when necessary. She learns to survive……until….
Twins, Jamie and Tommo arrive and Barbara finds herself not able to cope. With what is thought to be postnatal depression, Barbara is medicated. Unable to communicate properly as the medication ‘has poked holes in her memory’…she has thoughts ‘about intent and damage but no matter how much she tries to hold on to them, they fall through her sieve-like brain and land in a dark heap God knows where.’
Barbara and the boys begin to judge Seamus’ moods
‘Now the boys tiptoe around at home, unsure of Seamus who blows hot and cold with them, play-fighting one minute, snarling the next. And she makes very little noise…she sighs the way she’s learned to, on the inhale of breath. Seamus doesn’t notice this, it doesn’t disturb him. Her sighs, like her thoughts, are soundless.’
Amanda’s arrival into the world is a few years later and the destiny facing this poor child is a living nightmare.
Amanda is quite an unsettled baby and Seamus is unable to handle her crying and screaming. ‘Though Seamus’ bellowing is enough to have the boys quaking, the baby just keeps screaming right through it, in the end driving him cursing, out of the room.’
The relationship between Amanda and her father is a tragedy. He is a pig of a man with a serious chip on his shoulder.
The Wacky Man takes place during the troubles in Northern Ireland. Bombings in England, attributed to the IRA, turn neighbour against neighbour. Seamus, with very strong views, finds himself in many a scrap but his anger is at it’s worst when he comes home.
Over the years, the violence against his children gets worse. Their normality is skewed and they regularly fight among themselves, emulating the actions of their father, quite often injuring each other.
The beatings get worse until one day things change.
Seamus makes a trip home to Ireland. While he is away, Jamie and Tommo decide enough is enough and leave. Amanda is left with only her mother to defend her.
On Seamus’ return, what follows is a harrowing and very disturbing pattern of violence inflicted on a child. Amanda, helpless to his lashings, both physical and verbal, develops a shell. She becomes the victim of bullies in school, the teachers forsake her (all bar one) and her mother withdraws completely into herself.
The house is left to disrepair. Food is a luxury and eventually Amanda retreats inside not just to her bedroom but inside her head, where nobody can hurt her.
The Wacky Man is a novel deserving of the highest praise.
Lyn G Farrell has written a very raw and quite distressing novel about the affects of domestic violence. Written in an era where this kind of violence was swept under the carpet and kept behind closed doors, Amanda’s story should be told to the world.
We are all very exposed,on a daily basis, to harrowing images on our screens, yet the tragedy that is domestic violence is still something most of us know nothing about.
The Wacky Man does not make for an easy read but that is more the reason to read it. The subject matter is upsetting. It will open your eyes a little more to the world that we live in. These horrors are happening right in front of our eyes. It could be a friend, a neighbour, a relative…
No review I will ever write will do justice to this book. It is heartbreaking. It is wonderfully written. It is somebody’s truth……
Lyn G Farrell is an extremely accomplished writer. Her ability to expose the reader to such traumatic events and to incur such a reaction is a powerful tool. I will not easily forget The Wacky Man and neither should you…
Purchase Link : The Wacky Man
(at the time of publishing only 99p on Kindle)
Meet Lyn G Farrell:
Lyn G. Farrell is the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Burary and The Wacky Man is her debut novel.
Lyn grew up in Lancashire where she would have gone to school if life had been different. She spent most of her teenage years reading anything she could get her hands on.
She studied Psychology at the University of Leeds and now works in the School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.
You can follow Lyn on Twitter
Or at her website Farrell Writes