'There existed for both of them the possibility of happiness.'
The novel is set in the run-up to, and after, the American Presidential elections of 2008, alongside which is the backdrop of the economic recession affecting the world. Bruno arrives in Dublin with a month to go until the election, and three weeks after losing his job. Bruno, like many, is desperate for Obama to win and feels this would bring hope for the future, he is passionate about it. If McCain wins, Bruno vows not to return to the USA. Bruno contacts Hugh and Addie by telephone, but his messages are not returned, as neither of them feels inclined to deal with him. But after meeting on the beach one day, things will never be the same for Bruno and Addie.
Bruno and Addie meet and find a totally unexpected, life-changing happiness and love together, the like of which they both feel they have never known before. Bruno is nearly 50 and Addie is 38. There is so much joy between them. Bruno brings a lightness that brightens and opens up Addie's life. 'All her life Addie has had the feeling that there's a black cloud following her around.' There is a wonderful, eye-opening moment for Bruno when he looks at the tracks listed on Addie's iPod, the music that accompanies her day, and realises 'the way she had her life story set up, it was a weepie'. He determines from then on he is going to turn it 'into a feel-good movie.' As for himself, 'he felt like he'd woken up from a bad dream and suddenly everything was OK in the world.'
I found that I engaged with and liked the characters, Addie most of all, and I found the love that grew between her and Bruno was charmingly depicted, such an honesty and innocence that they share. I also grew to care about Hugh despite his cantankerous nature; he's an old-fashioned man in a modern world. The characters felt very real, and their stories genuine. There is a gentle humour in places, - I loved the little part about the etiquette amongst dog owners, so true! - and there is a truthfulness about relationships. There is an acute awareness of the passing of time and how moments can seem both days away and yet also a lifetime away.
This is a very moving novel from Kathleen MacMahon. I was left a bit heartbroken on finishing it, to be honest, because of how I'd grown to care for certain of the characters. I can't say more as it'll spoil it. But you'll know why when you read it. This book also has a beautiful, and for me quite magical, cover design.
Thank you to the publisher for kindly sending me a proof copy to read and give an honest review.