Book Review of Felicity Hayes-McCoy’s The Heart of Summer

Hachette €15.99

Reviewing a book with such a title reminds me of how late to the party I am with this – and with some others, too, about which I’ll be writing in the coming weeks – but at least I didn’t miss out on this heartening read, another novel full of good stuff from Felicity Hayes-McCoy.

Although it’s a standalone novel, it’s the latest in the Finfarran series, set on a fictional peninsula in the West of Ireland that could be anywhere from West Cork to Donegal. Those of us who have followed Finfarran librarian Hanna will know that she moved back there with her daughter after a painful divorce, and has found her feet in the place where she was born and reared. Like most small communities, there’s no shortage of drama in the village and the discovery of an ancient Psalter, written in similar fashion to the Book of Kells and donated to the library by the local lord of the manor, brings unprecedented numbers of tourists to the once-sleepy little town.

Nobody’s complaining, though, business in Finfarran is booming as a result. One of the tourists in particular, Amy, is a very old friend of Hanna’s from her student days in London, and after much persuading, Amy manages to lure Hanna back to the big smoke for a few days. Hesitant at first, Hanna finally decides to go. Her timing is good as her boyfriend’s adult son, whom she barely knows, has turned up at Finfarran and seems to be staying. And now Hanna now finds herself falling in love with London all over again…

Hanna’s mother Mary is back in this novel, as is the local builder Fury and his dog, The Divil. There are other favourite characters too, along with some new ones to keep us up to date. In spite of the summer of its title, this novel is a great read for dark, locked-down winter evenings, laden as it is with much-needed light and humour.

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