Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary

  Geary enters the literary arena with a bang: this debut about an unconventional love affair between a teenage boy and an older woman is unassuming but gorgeously rendered. Set in 1980s working-class Dublin and told in the second-person point of view, the quiet, sensitive story follows Sonny as he slogs from school to his part-time job at the butcher shop to home, where he’s the youngest of many brothers and his exhausted mother is cooking yet another meal while criticizing Sonny’s gambling father under her breath. Besides sneaking out to smoke cigarettes at a cluster of rocks called the Cat’s Den with his only acquaintance, a sexually promiscuous dropout named Sharon, Sonny spends most of his nonworking hours worrying about his mom, trying to placate his dad, stealing bike parts, getting drunk, and wandering along the canal at night—until he meets Vera, an educated, posh British woman who lives alone in the house he and his laborer father are repairing. From the moment he lays eyes on her, Sonny is smitten, and the affair that develops slowly over the course of the book is both deeply nuanced and utterly convincing. Geary has an ear for snappy dialogue, and the economic strains on Sonny’s family are keenly felt throughout the book. Above all, it’s the combination of Sonny’s unwitting innocence and Vera’s inescapable sadness that makes their connection—and the novel—brilliant and heartbreaking.  (Aug.)

Originally ran in PublishersWeekly (June 5, 2017)

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