“Four girls sit on rocks in the middle of the stream: a dark plump girl, a girl whose hair burgeons from her head in a mane of light; another with long white legs and short black shorts, clipped jet hair; a willowy branch of a girl, blonde. The sun shines through green leaves, glancing off the chestnut water and all the hair. Both hair and water pick up the sun and play with it, respond with similar glimmers and flashes, darks and dimples of light”
Those four girls – Orla and Aisling from Dublin, Pauline and Jacqueline from Derry – have come to summer school in the Donegal countryside.
They are there to learn about the Irish language and Customs. But, because this is the first time they have experienced freedom from their lives and families.
The plot is slight and very little happens, but this isn’t a book about plot.
It’s a story that paints wonderful pictures. Of four very different young women and a summer that they will always remember. Of a beautiful part of the world. And of a particular point in time, a particular point in Ireland’s history.
Every detail is right.
A simple, old fashioned coming of age story, quite beautifully told.
And Ireland is the final stop for my Orbis Terrarum Challenge.
Ten books from ten ten countries.
Here’s the full itinerary:
1. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (Norway)
2. The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg (Sweden)
3. UFO in her Eyes by Xialou Guo (China)
4. Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe (France)
5. Almost Blue by Carlo Lucarelli (Italy)
6. The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide (Australia)
7. Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson (Canada)
8. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (Japan)
9. Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posadas (Portugal)
10. The Dancers Dancing by Éilis Ni Dhuibhne (Ireland)
It’s been a wonderful trip! I wonder where my reading will take me next year …