Dublin, 1984: Ireland is a divided country, the Parish Priest remains a figure of immense authority and Jim Finnegan is thirteen years old, the youngest in a family of five sisters. Life in Jim’s world consists of dealing with the helter-skelter intensity of his rumbustious family, taking breakneck bike rides with his best friend, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar. But after a drunken yet delicate rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ at the Donohues’ raucous annual party, Jim captures both the attention of the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue and the unwanted desires of the devious and dangerous Father Luke O’Culigeen.
Bounced between his growing love for Saidhbh and his need to avoid the dreaded O’Culigeen, Jim’s life starts to unravel. He and Saidhbh take a ferry for a clandestine trip to London that has dark and difficult repercussions, forcing Jim to look for the solution to all his problems in some very unusual places.
I’ve found it quite hard to review this book because I can’t pinpoint exactly what I think about it as a whole. It was an engaging read and at times very humorous. It deals with some incredibly contentious issues but it doesn’t feel like a bleak read.
The main theme of this book is the consequences of what happens in our childhood reflecting on our future. The Fields can be an uncomfortable read. It deals with issues such as abuse, sexuality, abortion and religion. All of this happens to mainly Catholic Irish characters. I think the issues are made easier to read because of the humour. It’s light relief from horrifying issues. The protagonist Jim Finnegan is a teenager with a very mature outlook in life. He’s a memorable character.
I felt let down by the ending. It’s controversial, but it just seemed to me like an easy way out. The story before was so well thought of and incredibly well written. It seemed a shame to end how it did.
I did enjoy The Fields, it was an interesting yet slightly disturbing read.
Would I recommend it?:
Bright Young Things- Scarlett Thomas.