Forty-something David Quinn, a successful Australian journalist, has come to the Irish island of Inishmore in order to help his divorced sister. Though he adores his nephews, the fact that he doesn’t have his own children affects him as powerfully as it might a woman with a booming biological clock. Without a partner in his life and stuck on a lonely island, it seems that love, parenthood, and a family of his own is something that will pass him by.
Ettie, a teenage tourist from Australia, visits the island and ends up at David’s cottage for dinner—alone. The evening passes pleasantly—and innocently—enough, but when an accident occurs later that night, events unfold that turn David’s world around. Without giving away too much of this wonderful novel, everything he has longed for appears before him as a real possibility and, then, just as quickly vanishes.
It’s the smallest act that determines the course of events. Ettie’s mother Tania is willing to make sense of every detail of her daughter’s injury except for this one thing. And, because both have been damaged in past relationships, trust is precarious.
Sweet Old World is the worthy second novel by Deborah Robertson, a writer of much talent and subtlety, who garnered acclaim for her first novel Careless. She manages to capture the ease of love as it first descends and weaves a delicate narrative of longing, inevitability and, finally, acceptance. The plot, while engaging, takes second place, however; Robertson’s skill is in developing characters that are not only believable but heartbreakingly human.
Sweet Old World .
Deborah Robertson .