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  • ‘in-depth, though provoking read

    ‘Finding Alison’ is the second full-length novel by best-selling Irish author, Deirdre Eustace. This is a multi-layered tale which touches on many raw emotions, sometimes making for difficult reading. Structurally, the story is told in chronological order, with a bit of backstory dropped in, where necessary. The chapters are fairly evenly spaced and divided into subsections. There is a good balance between dialogue and description and Eustace has a fluid writing style, keeping her pace steady. We see a lot of the story through Alison but at times we get different perspectives from her network of friends and family in the aftermath of tragedy which took Sean Delaney away from his wife and child. The cover is simple and engaging. Alison is looking out to sea and it’s left to the reader to imagine her thoughts and the pain etched into her features. The author has made use of many descriptive literary techniques with her main device being anthropomorphism. We have copious examples of personification, from a bleeding sky to the kiss of the breeze. The end result is a rich tapestry, providing a colourful backdrop against which each cast member plays their part in Alison’s story. There is also a poignant example of foreshadowing which brings an additional element of pathos to the plot, just when I was beginning to think I knew the direction the story was heading. Alison is a three-dimensional character with whom the reader immediately sympathises and she has a very able foil in the form of Kathleen. In William, we have a strong enigmatic personality; neither stereotypical hero nor anti-hero. He becomes a quiet, gentle, supportive presence in Alison’s life and the tender relationship which builds between them is almost tangible. This deeply moving story touches on many aspects of life with heartache at the fore but the overriding theme is discovery; ‘Finding Alison’ is just that – a voyage of soul-searching, self-awareness and ultimate acceptance. As the plot develops, Eustace throws in some twists and whilst I had correctly guessed Kathleen’s sign-posted secret long before the reveal, it didn’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the book. If I’m being pernickety, I was a little uneasy when we delved into more than one person’s head in the same section. At times I was unsure whose thoughts I was sharing, particularly in scenes between Alison and Kathleen, when the pronoun was ‘she’. ‘Finding Alison’ will appeal to anyone who likes an in-depth, gritty, thought-provoking read. It is testimony to Deirdre Eustace’s skills as an author that this sensitively-written, emotion-focused novel held my attention from start to finish, which is no mean feat as I’m pretty much a murder mystery fan. This is an excellent work of fiction and I have no hesitation in awarding five well-earned stars.

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