Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton – A book review
That thought crossed my mind many times while reading Claire Fullerton’s novel, Dancing to an Irish Reel. I had the pre-decided notion that I would relate personally to Hailey’s experience being that, like her, I’m an American woman involved with an Irish gentleman. Relate I did, but not where I expected to. Our relationships are as different as our personalities and the same goes for the men in our lives. So I reread the book with no expectation or comparison and it won my heart over.
What I most connected with were the references to western Ireland geography, weather, language, and societal mores — they are impeccable. I could nearly hear the distinct Connemara blas when natives spoke. Ms. Fullerton nailed the vernacular, evidence she had spent time in the setting either researching the book or being inspired to write it. How fortunate for her because the west of Ireland is a spectacular place to be.
Another appealing part of this book for me is the use of genuine locations. One pub in particular made me smile each time it was mentioned. My husband and I celebrated there with friends and family days before our wedding and returned again on the day following our wedding. I’ve eaten, drank, danced, shopped, and wandered in many of the places that are written about. And the places I was less familiar with, I found myself drawn to explore.
The story reads more like a true narrative rather than one of fiction. As Hailey keenly observes the nuances of Irish life, her confusion about her swain, Liam Hennessy, begins to make sense and she gains knowledge about the realities of life with an Irish man whose first loves are music and family. While all this is happening she remains remarkably level-headed and generous with her time and affections for friends, co-workers, and neighbours. In their own unique way, they provide insights that may or may not relieve some of her uncertainty; if not, they at least help to take her mind off the wonders of her heart while also enhancing the storyline.
Hailey and Liam’s relationship is not an uncommon scenario here in Ireland. Bittersweet at times, there’s an innocence and naivety to their love story that had me reading between the lines of their dialogue right up to the end of the book. I’ll admit, the ending was unexpected but not surprising. I could easily see a sequel to this book and would welcome it with open arms.
Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. Who would I recommend it to? Anyone living apart from Ireland who wants to get a sense of its people and intrinsic nature. Anyone who is living in or has visited Ireland and wants a reminder of how unique a culture it is. Readers who are interested in real life relationships, full of complications and void of fairy tale scenarios would also find this story appealing. If you enjoy a really good piece of fictional writing, then Dancing to an Irish Reel is for you.
Follow Claire on Twitter: @cfullerton3
About the Reviewer:
Melissa Gillan “The Aran Artisan” is an Amercan lady who married her Irishman and moved to Ireland on love and a prayer. She and her husband work the land, raise their children, and do everything the Irish way. Her Blog, “The Aran Artisan“ is a favorite stop for many who love her style of sharing the Irish way of life in an American voice. She was chosen specifically for this review to deem how authentic and how successful Claire Fullerton had made Dancing to an Irish Reel. Living in the area of the setting for the book, she would know.