Hi everyone! I had a lovely holiday (yay!) but I am back now (boo!) with more book reviews (yay!). This review is focusing on Montpelier Parade, Karl Geary’s debut novel. We follow Sonny Knolls, a teenager living in Dublin with his builder father, who has a gambling addiction, apathetic brothers and an exasperated mother. One day while helping his father with a job, Sonny meets Vera, an older woman that he quickly falls in love with. But Vera has secrets and as their relationship progresses, Sonny starts to find out more about her.
I loved this book. I found the character of Sonny so tragic yet beautiful. Geary uses ‘you’ in the narration, placing the reader directly into Sonny’s shoes. This technique helps to create sympathy for Sonny, even when he is doing problematic things. You get a sense of the hopelessness that Sonny feels, trapped in a life with little to no opportunity, and you get frustrated because of it. I was so angry at one point that I nearly launched the book across the room, I cared so deeply about his character and was furious that none of the adults in his life bothered to help him. I also found the symbolism of the bike he is trying to build very touching, his attempts to escape this life no matter how slim the odds.
The character of Vera I also found fascinating. She is the exact opposite of Sonny; travelled, educated, wealthy etc. Yet Geary instills a sense of vulnerability in her so she comes across as a fully-fledged character. The drip-feeding of revelations of her past life was well done, they are discovered in a realistic way. Nothing felt forced or unbelievable. They also helped to explain not only the predicament we find her in, but also her actions within the story.
The famous saying ‘show don’t tell’ is apparent in the novel. Geary treats his reader like they’re adults; not everything is spelled out to you. The tense relationships within the Knolls family are never explicitly stated but you sense them – Geary’s word choice and dialogue hint at them. I found this helped my enjoyment of the novel because I felt Geary wasn’t insulting my intelligence by pointing out the obvious, if that makes sense.
Montpelier Parade is definitely not a standard beach read. It is raw, dark and harrowing with little chance of hope. I found the characters stunning and you felt for their plights. Geary’s writing style is so evocative, you feel like you’re wandering the Dublin streets with them. I didn’t want the book to end and found myself quite emotional at its climax. I highly recommend this book.
Montpelier Parade is published by Vintage. For more info click here.