Where The Edge Is by Grainne Murphy

Published: September 15th, 2020
Publisher: Legend Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Saga

Welcome to my stop on the tour for four this fantastic debut. Thank you to Legend Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.

Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.

When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.

MY REVIEW:

Poignant and powerful, this immersive character study follows a group of strangers in the aftermath of a bus crash in a rural Irish town. It starts as an ordinary morning, but then the road collapses and a bus falls into it, trapping six passengers. As firefighters try to find the safest way to free them we follow three of the passengers, the driver and passenger who managed to escape, a journalist and her firefighter ex-husband. The author gives us a window into their lives and innermost thoughts, examining topics such as grief, mental health, identity, race, religion, homelessness and how our society judges, even if in the midst of a tragedy.

While I enjoyed this book, it was a very different book than I imagined, in part because I feel the synopsis is misleading. It reads like this will be a tense book that has you on the edge of your seat but is instead a steadily paced story that uses the bus crash as the catalyst that brings the characters together and focuses on deeper issues. Moving between multiple points of view, we are offered some contrasting and varying views on life and the world, with each person dealing with their part in the story in very different ways.

There is a former couple still dealing with the loss of their baby daughter and the end of their marriage, an immigrant struggling to fit in and find her place in the cultures of either her birth or adopted home, the bus driver who doesn’t feel worthy of his hero title, a disabled young woman dreaming of her future but also scared, wondering when rescue will come, a young woman trying to find her place in the world and battling against a toxic parent, and a teenage boy dealing with all the trauma that time brings. They are an eclectic and wonderfully written group of characters who make for fascinating reading. The background cast enhance the main characters and are just as well written, adding drama and tension to the story.

This is a fantastic debut novel. The author’s talent is evident in her intelligent and moving prose, the way she offers just the right amount of humour, offering much-needed splashes of light amongst the overall darker tone of the story, and her keen observations. I’m excited to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Gráinne’s debut novel Where the Edge Is will be published by Legend Press in September 2020, with The Ghostlights to follow in 2021.

Gráinne’s stories are about family and identity, about staring life down and choosing the kind of person you want to be. Earlier novels were shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019, the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019, the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2016 and the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2014.

In short fiction, her story Further West placed third in the Zoetrope All-Story Contest 2018, with other stories appearing in Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace), Irish Literary Review Issue 5 (Frank & Alfie) and RiPPLE 2016 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub).

Gráinne’s several lives to date include stints in forensic research, human resources, training, volunteering and editing. No matter what she did, it always came back to words. After spending several years struggling to eavesdrop in Belgian cafes, she now lives and writes in a gloriously rainy corner of West Cork.

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