There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F Ross
|There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F Ross|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Stephen Leach|
|Summary: A nostalgic and regretful novel about club football, loyalty, and returning to your roots.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: January 2021|
|External links: Author's website|
Years ago, Danny Garvey was a footballing prodigy playing for his local club. Everyone predicted a bright future – but his career in professional football never quite worked out. Thirteen years on, convinced to return home by his "uncle" Higgy to visit his dying mother, Danny takes over the shambolic and once-great team he used to play for and tries to reform them.
It's great when a book surprises you. I never expected a novel about football to be my kind of read, but something about the description piqued my interest and wouldn't let it go. My instincts were right. This is a story with a punch, clouded by memory and regret. Danny's return to his hometown is both parts purposeful and shambling: it's awkward, it's uncomfortable, and he's slightly at odds with everyone there.
While the central arc of the novel is in Danny's efforts to turn his club around, it quickly becomes clear that he's also driven by something else – his guilt for an event that happened in his past. Via interspersed chapters from other points of view, the story slowly fleshes out Danny's various relationships with the people he left behind, most notably his family members. It's clear that there's pain in his past, perhaps even trauma – but also an increasing sense that his account of events might not be quite as reliable as first assumed.
It's hard to delve into what elapses without giving too much away, but the book is shot through with raw emotion, nostalgia, and regret. This is an incredibly raw – and powerful – story, and the final few pages left me feeling wounded; I only wish the ending had given me a little more time to digest it, but maybe the swiftness of it was the point. For all its gut-punching sharpness, Danny Garvey ends up being a pretty beautiful story. I'll be diving into the author's other books after this.
You might want to lighten the tone after this (but only slightly) - if so, Bookbag can recommend The Last Four Days Of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey, an ever-so-slightly farcical black comedy told from the point of view of an undertaker.
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