The Settlement, Ruth Kirby Smith ( paperback July 2021)
Written by a N Irish author who attended Methody, and QUB, this is a page-turning drama set in a turbulent period of Irish history ( was there ever a non turbulent period?!) Most copies should be signed.
Returning to Ireland from Boston in 1984 for her grandmother’s funeral to the (fictional) village of Lindara, County Armagh, Olivia is appalled when a man she has never seen before spits at Sarah’s coffin. The mystery is gradually revealed through the grandmother’s journal ... in those pages are the agonies of spurned love, a hastily contrived rebound marriage, but also humour. This is Sarah’s story, recounting the momentous events leading up to the partition of Ireland but from the point of view of the anti-Home Rulers of the north, a perspective which has attracted less attention in fiction.
Although ideologically not completely attuned to the beliefs of her husband and community, Sarah finds herself caught up in gun-running.
Kirby-Smith evokes the widening fissures in what was to become a border community, the fear of reprisals and the harbouring of resentment through generations which mirrors Ulster’s more recent Troubles. Occasionally the narrative risks turning into a retelling of history – but what a history – until the characters reassert themselves. This novel is neatly plotted, and secrets hidden for decades are deftly revealed and satisfyingly resolved.