Home Stretch by Graham Norton

 ‘It was Bill Lawlor who found them first.’

In 1987, the small Irish community of Mullinmore is preparing for the marriage of two of its young. The young couple, with four others, spend the day before the wedding at the beach. On the way home there is a car accident. Three die, three survive. Connor, the driver, is one of the survivors. But he cannot stay within this small, close knit community where everyone is grieving. Connor leaves. He travels to Liverpool, then to London and then to New York. He tries to make a new life for himself, leaving his family behind. Back home, his sister Ellen marries. Her husband, also one of the survivors of the accident, follows in his father’s footsteps as the community doctor.

Time passes. People grow older, but the past is ever present. And Connor meets the past in an unexpected way.

‘The world had changed but it hadn’t changed at all.’

What a story! While I anticipated one element of it, it is the way Mr Norton unfolds the story that held my attention. His characters are well-developed, flawed human beings, prejudiced and judgemental. What will Connor find when he revisits Mullinmore?

Highly recommended.

‘This is what homecoming meant.  Arriving in a place to discover you’re fluent in a language you’d forgotten you ever knew.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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