Mr Lynch's Holiday by Catherine O'Flynn

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Mr Lynch's Holiday by Catherine O'Flynn

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Funny and moving, this is a story about living abroad, about what makes a home, and about families and the endless complications of relationships between parents and children.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Viking
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0670918560

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Having read and enjoyed both of her previous novels, What Was Lost and The News Where You Are I was looking forward to this latest book. The story tells us of a father who surprises his son, living in Spain, with a visit. The father is recently widowed and the son's long-term partner has very recently left him, although it's some time before he admits that to his dad. What begins as a holiday turns into something of a pschological rescue mission as Dermot begins to see the problems depressing Eamonn and the ways in which he might be able to help. There's a lot about familial relationships in the book, as well as ideas about living at home and abroad.

When Dermot, Eamonn's father, turns up on his doorstep one morning Eamonn is far from pleased. His girlfriend, Laura, has recently left him, needing some 'time to think' and he is ill-prepared to entertain his father. He lives on an abandoned ex-pat estate in Spain, which the workers gave up on finishing when the company involved went bankrupt. The estate is empty, desolate, reflecting the state of Eamonn's life without Laura and prompting you to wonder if Dermot's life is the same since his wife's death. Slowly, cleverly, O'Flynn starts to reveal more about her characters, unveiling old, hidden truths and exposing that Eamonn and Dermot barely know each other. The story seemed to me, after a while, to become a love story between a father and his son. I loved the way their relationship developed, oh so slowly, and in the most satisfying way.

Eamonn and Laura had decided to move away from England to try to have a better life. They were living the dream, in a beautiful new home where it was always sunny, looking out on the pool, surrounded by peace and quiet. However, as the housing estate began to decay around them, their relationship began to decay too. We cleverly see how Eamonn's life unravelled, and that his new house never became a home, no matter how much he tried to convince himself otherwise.

There's an interesting mix of characters. Some others had already moved onto the estate before everything went wrong, and the little group of ex-pats are forced together when burglaries and mysterious vandalism starts to happen around them. I liked reading the interplay between this group of oddball characters. Really, by far, my favourite though was Dermot. He was a bus driver in Birmingham, a charming gentleman, and I just love his character, his easy-going nature, the stories he has to tell and his gentle love for his son. Eamonn is infuriating at times, and it's not hard to see why Laura walked out! But Dermot was a more interesting characer to me, and I was intrigued by his relationship with his wife and what had happened in their lives over the years.

O'Flynn has a way with characters so they do rather live in your head whilst you're reading. I like books like that, where the people seem real to me. It was interesting that the paradise dream lifestyle was shown to be not all it's cracked up to be, or at least not for Eamonn and Laura, and yet she still manages to balance it with the idea that it's the right lifestyle for others. Mostly I liked the relationship between Eamonn and Dermot. It's lovely, and loving, and full of misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge about themselves and each other - much the way things often are in families! I wasn't disappointed by this book. It's perhaps not my favourite of the three she's written so far, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

For some more, very different, familial relationships try Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen

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Buy Mr Lynch's Holiday by Catherine O'Flynn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Lynch's Holiday by Catherine O'Flynn at


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