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3.5 out of 5
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  • I love Roone, but not my fav of the series

    This book was a return to the little island of Roone. I've read the other books set in Roone, which I really enjoyed, and while you don't really need to read them before this book it would certainly help a bit with the characters. I did find it a bit confusing at first with the various characters, and it took me a little while to get my head around who everyone was again as it had been a little while since I read the last one, but I soon got there. I did enjoy the setting of Roone as it sounded lovely as usual, but a few things niggled me a bit with the characters. Everyone seemed to be fed up or sad, unlike the other books, and some were a bit too opinionated and ready to think the worst of people without any solid facts. I just couldn't warm to the characters, even ones I'd really liked before like Laura. The only character I really liked was Gualtiero, the Italian who was visiting Roone to paint, he was just lovely. I'm also not sure why it was called 'The Birthday Party', as the actual party was a really tiny bit of the book, nothing to do with the title really and the ending was a bit abrupt and odd, finishing with the guy who'd had the birthday party when he'd hardly been in the book at all. Maybe there's going to be another one in the series - hopefully they'll all have cheered up by then! So not my favourite Roone book of the series, but it wouldn't stop me from wanting to read the next one (if there is one) in the hope that it's a bit lighter and happier!

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  • Back To Roone

    3.5 Stars We've been to the idyllic Island of Roone several times now but I found it odd that I really didn't recognise many of the characters. What should have felt like coming home actually felt like I was starting a whole new series but somewhere in the middle so all these characters that should have felt familiar to me were strangers. It wasn't until Laura graced the pages that I started to get a handle on the whole thing again and even then it was tentative to say the least. My biggest issue with the book was what on earth happened to Roone? It used to be such a happy little island. Sure people had real world problems but somehow there was always a sense of optimism surrounding them and you knew that no matter what tragedy befell them somehow their sheer pluck and vivacity would pull them through - Laura's bounceback from Breast Cancer, the great storm, etc.. This time it genuinely felt like a different, doomladen place. Talk of suicides off the cliff edge, ostracism within the community, friendships dramatically going off the rails. The only little glimmers of hope were the wonderful Italian gentleman (whose name I am struggling to remember how to spell so lets just refer to him as Walter). He embodied the joie de vivre that the island used to have and has now lost. His delight in the simple things was a real tonic and whenever we got to visit with him it lifted the whole book - even if we only ever got his tale second hand. Everything else is just grim, including the eponymous Birthday Party. Roisin Meaney certainly understands people though and although this novel kind of ruined the whole Roone ethos nobody acts in a way which is unbelievable. Maybe that is the problem, it shows people at their worst and because the author is so good at people it makes it uncomfortable to read. Whichever, I found that although I appreciated the vignettes it didn't make me happy and when I pick up a Roone book I expect some joy and there was little of that be found here.

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