The Cure by Rachel Genn

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The Cure by Rachel Genn

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A young Irishman called Eugene makes the big decision to try and make a new life in London. But the ghost of his father, Seamus still haunts him - even across the Irish Sea.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 304 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Constable
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849015837

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We get the background on Eugene early on in the story; a troubled childhood with an alcoholic father who was often not at home. Instead he was working on a building site in London and drinking away much of his wages. His wife and children didn't appear to benefit much - either financially or emotionally. Eugene still bears plenty of invisible scars from that time and now grown up, would like to carve out his own path and thinks a fresh start would be a good idea. Although it's not altogether a fresh start as he chooses to work on the same construction site as his father and even lives in the same lodgings in the East End. Is this his own unique way of exorcising some ghosts?

Genn's style is poetic, very poetic. The first couple of chapters were lovely but then I must admit to taking a bit of a dip in my enthusiasm as she kept swamping me with poetry. The book opens while Eugene is still in Ireland and its all about hard drinking and hard living and I felt that the soft language perhaps missed its target. Often I would come across a terrific sentence but then I was automatically putting in my own full stops - often well before Genn chose to do so.

The story then follows Eugene to his new, shiny life in the gritty East End of London and in amongst lots of hairy-arsed builders, if you'll excuse my language. Genn did give many of these labourers/scaffolders and what have you, good and memorable nick-names but again I felt that her softly-softly approach was not fully effective. I wanted more grit. I didn't get it. I often wanted plain English but I didn't get that either. Genn paints a picture of green-behind-the-ears Eugene as he attempts to take in all the noise, the bustle and the heaving crowds of London. He's clearly overwhelmed. But somehow he manages to get up in the morning, report on site and get on with the job. Even although he's rather shy he manages to make new friends and attempts to lead a normal life. We learn that his new landlady and his father had some 'history' between them but Eugene is blissfully unaware of anything. He comes across on the page as a simple young man with simple tastes.

On a slight negative, I found the plot itself to be a little thin, a bit wishy-washy and it left me a little unsatisfied, I have to say. It didn't hold my attention fully and I rushed the book in order to get it finished. I was expecting to like it much better than I did. On a good note, however, the sparring and banter amongst the site workers was natural and fluid with some nice lines in irony and also some humour. With Genn's distinctive style I found that the secondary characters (and even Eugene if I'm totally honest) did not really register or sparkle on the page. I think I would have appreciated a volume of poetry rather than all those meandering, fluffy lines. Overall, didn't quite work for me.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If the idea of this book appeals why not try The Road Home by Rose Tremain? We had our doubts about Twisted Agendas by Damian McNicholl, but you might like to see if it would work for you.

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Buy The Cure by Rachel Genn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cure by Rachel Genn at


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