Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan

‘Things were gone funny lately, people said over and over; the world was changing fast.

In 1973, Moll Gladney goes missing from her home in Tipperary, Ireland, where she lived with her parents Paddy and Kit.  She’s gone for so long that her parents begin to accept that they’ll never see her again.  But one day Moll returns.

‘The girl had spoken now, and still Kit knew as little as she had before she spoke.’

Moll’s disappearance and reappearance is the centre of the story: why did she leave, where did she go, why did she return?  But the story itself is about more than just Moll.  It is the ripple effect of her disappearance and reappearance which held my attention.  Moll has changed, but so have those who knew her and those who came to know her.  No life is lived in isolation.

Having come to terms with Moll’s disappearance, Kit and Paddy come to terms with the changes occasioned by her reappearance.  Mr Ryan raises several different and important issues in this novel: so many different forms of love, so many different views of life.  This is the third of his novels I have read, and I have enjoyed each of them.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith