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ISBN : 9780953763085
Richard Kirwan’s deeply moving novel, Minding Jack, is a strikingly vivid reawakening of Waterford in the early 1960s. It evokes a city caught between the conservative past and an exciting liberating present. It is set around a mother and her three adult children, living in the inner-city in 1964, struggling with the changing social and moral environment.
Kirwan skilfully draws out family and individual conflicts as well as some dark secrets as the children struggle to make their own lives away from the influence of a dominant mother, who has sheltered them from outside influences, even into adulthood. Now their sheltered lives and religious certainties are being challenged by the emergence of a less restrictive moral climate, something which ultimately threatens to split the family apart.
The story is interwoven with the fabric of the old city, its streets and laneways, shops, churches and gossip-mongers eager to spread the latest scandal. Indeed, the streets and shops take on their own personalities and become synonymous with the lives of the family members. It is Kirwan’s ability to integrate characters with the fabric of the city that makes it so evocative of life in Waterford at that time.
In many ways, the novel depicts not only life in Waterford but aspects of Irish society at that time and chronicles the national struggle both with conscience and social norms, which have defined Irish culture over the generations.
This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in this old city.