A Keeper, Graham Norton, Ireland, 2018

A Keeper, Graham Norton, Ireland, 2018

An easy-to-read page-turner, split between the past and the present, A Keeper fulfils many of the requirements of light, non-confronting literature. It does not have a deep message, and none of the characters are particularly well developed.

It took me a few chapters to ‘get into’ this book. The introduction is interesting but not overly so, and the writing is fairly average. Nevertheless, being an optimist, I looked forward to something that would warrant all the words of praise on the cover of the book: ‘gripping’, ‘magnificent’, ‘moving’…

Elizabeth is a divorced mother, living in New York with her teenage son, Zach. When her mother, Patricia, dies in a small village outside of Kilkenny, she returns to Ireland to pack up the house and sort out her mother’s will. While she is looking through the house, she finds a box of letters, letters from the father (Edward) she never knew. Then an unexpected turn of events causes her to drive down to West Cork, seeking information about her long-deceased father and what might remain of the family home.

At the same time that Elizabeth is mourning the loss of her mother, dealing with the will and avaricious relatives, and attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding Edward, Zach, who was supposed to be visiting his father in San Francisco, is obviously out on a jaunt of his own without having advised either of his parents. When Elizabeth becomes aware of this she is understandably stressed.

Graham Norton (iNews UK)

As the story fills out, it becomes somewhat more interesting, juggling the present story of Elizabeth piecing together bits of information about her father with the past story of how Patricia met him. I did not have a problem with the constant switching between the past and the present, but the characters (all of them insipid) are little more than cardboard cutouts, and there were many times when I felt like shaking the lot of them (though whether it is possible to shake cardboard cutouts is another question altogether).

This could have been an engrossing tale had Norton spent more time developing his characters as people with normal emotions and normal (even explosive) reactions to life and its abnormalities. The moral implications of what was done and even what was not done were simply brushed over or not even mentioned. The side story with Zach was sketchy and completely unbelievable, even though I can understand that Norton was probably using it to parallel Patricia’s story and bring everything full circle.

If you are looking for a quick, superficially suspenseful, read, A Keeper may be the book for you. If you are looking for something with depth and characters displaying real emotions I suggest you ignore the ‘best seller’ label and look elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *