From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

‘What’s in the past can’t be changed and what’s to come can’t be known and you can’t give your life to worrying.’

Three men, three separate narratives, separate but similar journeys. Farouk is a doctor, a refugee who has fled war-torn Syria, Lampy is a broken-hearted young Irishman living with his unmarried mother and grandfather, and John is an old man, looking back on his life. Each of the stories unfolds, and the three are drawn together at the end.

I read of Farouk’s flight and tragic losses, of Lampy’s memories of the past and hopes for the future, of the events and choices in John’s past. Each of the men is scarred by his experiences, each is searching for his own space, his own place to call home. Can Farouk find happiness in a new life? Can Lampy live in the present? And where does John’s story fit?

And now I have finished the novel, I marvel at the way in which Mr Ryan creates these separate men, their worlds and concerns yet is able to demonstrate (in so few pages) common concerns and a connection. While I did not need the connection to enjoy the novel (I am still thinking about choices and consequences), the connection made the story even more satisfying.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith