Friday, October 13, 2017

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

I'm not sure why but the book A Monster Calls keeps popping up and it sounds really interesting. But when I search for the book, I found out it was started by Siobhan Dowd and finished posthumously by another writer. And with the weird way my brain works, I figured that I needed to read a book by her before moving on to A Monster Calls.

Bog Child (which was also published posthumously, but finished before her death) is a historical novel set in Ireland. While Fergus is out with his 'uncle' Tally, he comes across a body in a bog. Soon, it's discovered that this is not a murder but an archeology and Fergus starts to dream of the bog child while navigating the exams which are an escape route, his brother on a hunger strike in prison, and falling in love.

On the whole, Bog Child is a quiet novel. There aren't a lot of explosive action scenes (although he is forced into doing something he doesn't want to), and it feels more like the journey of an 18 year old as he tries to make sense of the chaotic and confusing world around him.

Maybe quiet is the wrong word. I mean to say that despite the fact that the IRA and murdered bog children are involved, this is not a thriller.

And I'm guessing that this is also supposed to be an exploration of a complex issue, but I finished the book not liking the IRA. This was mainly because:

1. I find it incredibly selfish for Fergus' brother to cause his mom and sisters so much pain just because he doesn't get special status as a prisoner. I understand that I'm probably missing the picture but the way the book was written, I wasn't convinced that they needed this special status (perhaps there was an assumption that the reader had the requisite knowledge which I don't have).

2. Owain, the 'other side', was basically a normal dude (which I guess is what Fergus was supposed to realise) and I didn't really see any villains from his sides.

3. The ones making Fergus do things that went against his will identified with the IRA. I suppose it's more an indictment of how people will use any means to get to an end, but I can't say the book made me sympathetic towards the IRA, despite all the talk about needing a free Ireland.

The Bog Child is a character-driven novel and I really like how the character of Fergus was developed. I really liked the amount of empathy that he had for others and that the lengths that he was willing to go for his family.

All in all, this is a very beautifully novel that manages to capture how it feels to navigate a world that is falling to bits around you.

1 comment :

  1. This sounds like it would be an emotional book to read. I know a little about the IRA and Ireland, and would be curious to read this one. Thank you for your insightful review, Eustacia.


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