The house is on Montpelier Parade: just across town, but it might as well be a different world. Working on the garden with his father one Saturday, Sonny is full of curiosity. Then the back door eases open and she comes down the path towards him. Vera.
Chance meetings become shy arrangements, and soon Sonny is in love for the first time. Casting off his lonely life of dreams and quiet violence for this new, intoxicating encounter, he longs to know Vera, even to save her. But what is it that Vera isn’t telling him?
Unfolding in the sea-bright, rain-soaked Dublin of early spring, Montpelier Parade is a beautiful, cinematic novel about desire, longing, grief, hope and the things that remain unspoken. It is about how deeply we can connect with one another, and the choices we must also make alone.
Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary is published in hardback on 5 January 2017 by Vintage, Harvill Secker and is the author's debut novel.
Montpelier Parade is a story that has a dreamlike, ethereal quality. Composed with beautiful prose and told in the second person, this is a beautiful novel. A love story with the poverty and hardship suffered by Sonny, the lead character running alongside the wealth and grandeur of the house on Montpelier Parade occupied by Vera.
Sonny comes from a poor family who live in the backstreets of Dublin. When he's not in school, he works in the local butcher, and helps his father with building jobs. Sonny's parents are distant, from each other, and from Sonny. His father works, then spends his money in the bookies or the pub. His mother cooks, cleans and despairs at the lack of money coming into the house.
Sonny is a bright boy, intrigued by the world and gradually discovering his sexuality. His days are spent either at work, sometimes at school, but more often he's to be found smoking and drinking, accompanied by Sharon, a girl from a family just like his.
When Sonny meets Vera, the owner of a house where his father is building a wall, he discovers a world that is so far away from his own. Vera is older, she's English, she's so different to the women in his life. He is entranced, and besotted and desperate to know Vera better.
Vera is an enigmatic, mysterious character, she has secrets, she has a sadness and Sonny is determined to know more about her.
Atmospheric and haunting and really quite beautiful, Montpelier Parade is remarkably moving with characters who are vulnerable yet have hearts that beat so passionately.
Karl Geary has brilliantly captured both the pain and the wonder of first love and coming of age. His words are powerful and inspired. This is a debut novel that enchants and delights the reader. Highly recommended.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
Karl Geary was born in Dublin, and moved to New York City at age 16 where he co-founded music venue Sin-e and later the Scratcher in New York City's East Village.
He has worked as a script writer (Coney Island Baby), and an actor (Michael Almereyda's Hamlet, and Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall), and has adapted and directed Dorothy Parker's "You Were Perfectly Fine" for the screen.
He lives in Glasgow with his wife and daughter.