Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Intentions by Muriel Bolger

Muriel Bolger is an award-winning travel writer and I reviewed her Dublin guide- Dublin - City of Literature earlier this month ( Intentions is her second novel and Muriel Bolger uses her wide knowledge of travel throughout the story.

Set in Dublin, India and for a short time Malta, Intentions brings together a wide range of topics under the mantle of a love story. We follow the relationship of Beatrice, just coming out of a relationship she realised was going nowhere, and Damien, a medical college Dean who is committed to his students and is just embarking on a charity building plan in India. Alongside these characters runs the story of Iswara, an Indian student who has recently qualified as  a doctor in Dublin and is returning home to practise her newly learnt skills. Her path crosses with Damien's who is given the opportunity to see both sides of India- the poverty of the slums and the privileged life of India's highest Brahmin caste.

Muriel Bolger has written a most readable novel. There is humour as well as compassion, familiarity with the Dublin squares and pubs alongside evocative descriptions of foreign locations. The vivid images of India draw from Bolger's own travel experiences, including descriptions of street food and the huge divisions in the way people live. Although a most engaging story, it also addresses serious subjects; interfaith relationships, the balance of society and distribution of wealth. The contact between Beatrice and Damien while apart is dealt with through email correspondence, a suitable and readable way to keep up the dialogue.

The twists and turns between the characters' relationships, through set backs, resolutions and u-turns keep the reader gripped through to the very last chapter. Muriel Bolger's foray into fiction is one to be followed with interest as she brings her writing skills from journalism and editorship into an area that she obviously has much to bring.

Intentions is published by Hachette Books Ireland

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