Twenty people tell a story or parts of it in this novel, The Spinning Heart, ranging through all the main participants in the village’s events from a child even to a dead person. The story only emerges when we listen to all the voices and when we listen to all the voices we feel the external pressures on them (it is set in a little village in post financial melt-down Ireland) and we feel the personalities and their choices too, and most importantly we feel compassion for each voice.
Donal Ryan is not telling a chick lit story in spite of the title. The jacket bears a muted green coloured backdrop to an iron gate, origin of the title. His is a voice that reminds me a little of Flannery O’Connor in insight, with convincing but not value-free depiction of people’s inner workings, in their own voices. To see inside people’s minds and souls is a novelist’s prerogative, but would be so intrusive in the real world. Even those closest to me are closed to me in the deepest part of their consciousness of their world from their view. And so the novel, as Jane Austen avers, is of value in understanding ourselves and others.