Mount Merrion is poet Justin Quinn's first novel. In his acknowledgements he notes 'A novel that covers forty-plus years and touches on details of social life, business and politics incurs obvious debts to history' and this tells you a lot about Quinn's book. It is one that over seven chapters brings the reader snap-shots of a family's life and development, and often leaves you wanting to know more.
The novel opens in 1959 in a new County hospital where Declan Boyle has been admitted. The journey travels through the years, each time skipping six to nine years, following the progress of Declan, his wife and their children. The story brings in the recent history of the country and to a certain extent this means that the reader starts to see where the story is leading. The characters are well drawn and believable if a little clichéd. I found myself sometimes frustrated as the story skipped forward when I wanted to know more of that chapter in their life. Declan Boyle's wife Sinéad is an interesting character and the impact of 1970s Ireland on a young lonely mother was a part of the story I would have liked to see developed.
Mount Merrion is an enjoyable read and Quinn's use of reference such as that of historians Diarmaid Ferriter and R. F. Foster amongst others adds real credibility to the story. It has unexpected twists that bring tragedy to the tale, realistic turns that add depth and the return of characters to bring the story full circle.
Mount Merrion by Justin Quinn is published by Penguin Ireland www.penguin.com