The Saint of Lost Things is the latest novel by Northern Irish author Tish Delaney. Like her debut novel, Before My Actual Heart Breaks (winner of the 2022 Author's Club Best First Novel Award), this is a story of a young woman trying to break free from a fate that's been imposed on her by others.
What's the craic?
"I had dreams once, but never for anything as extravagant as happiness. Still, Auntie Bell and me have fresh cream cakes every Saturday. They're sweet enough to take the edge off. I hope they're enough to get me through being outed as a fraud. Turns out, I'm more my missing mother's daughter than anyone first suspected."
There was a time when Lindy Morris escaped to London and walked along the Thames in the moonlight. When life was full and exciting.
Decades later, Lindy lives back with her Auntie Bell on the edge: on the edge of Donegal and on the edge of Granda Morris's land. Granda Morris is a complicated man, a farmer who wanted sons but got two daughters: Auntie Bell and Lindy's mother, who disappeared long ago.
Now, Lindy and Bell live the smallest of lives, in a cottage filled with unfulfilled dreams. But when the secrets they have kept for thirty years emerge, everything is rewritten. Will Lindy grasp who she is again?
A deeply moving and often unsettling story following the life of Lindy Morris, a young girl growing up in rural Tyrone, always the outsider, always unwanted, and trapped in a small isolated life dominated by the moods of her misogynistic grandfather.
Though she escapes for a time, her naivety, inexperience and vulnerability lead her into tragic circumstances forcing her to return home, trapped once more into a life of fear and unfulfilled dreams.
Anyone familiar with small community life, where everyone knows who you are, where your mistakes are never forgotten and where you're defined by who you're related to will recognise the curtain-twitching, pursed lips prejudice so vividly captured by Tish Delaney. This is a world where everyone knows what's happening behind closed doors but no one wants to get involved, where men and the land they control are all that matter.
The bleak, isolated and unforgiving border landscape perfectly mirrors the life that Lindy is trapped into but with the author's knife-sharp wit and dark humour, there's still somehow a pervading a sense of hopefulness throughout that someday things will be better.
Tish Delaney has a real knack for capturing the local vernacular and the flow and cadence of her prose throughout the book makes it feel as though it's a story being told at a kitchen table over a cup of tea and cream buns.
The Saint of Lost Things is a story of one woman breaking free of both the fear and guilt she carries within herself and of the limitations put on her by others - an extraordinary book that will linger with you long after you've finished reading.
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