Thursday, 1 November 2018

Book review : The Reckoning - Clár Ní Chonghaile

The Reckoning is Clár Ní Chonghaile's third novel, after Fractured, an edgy, thought-provoking hostage story set in Somalia, and Rain Falls On Everyone, which follows the tale of a young Rwandan refugee in Ireland. Both of those novels gave the reader a chance to delve into tricky and nerve-wracking personal stories in distant climes, probably reflecting the 20 years that the author spent working as a reporter and editor in countries such as Spain, France, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Kenya.

In The Reckoning, the travelling continues, but this time we take a trip into the past, rather than changing continents. The narrator, Lina Rose, now an old lady, pens a series of letters to the daughter that she abandoned as a baby. "I have a story to tell you, Diane. It is my story and your story and the story of a century that made the world. When we reach the end, you will be the ultimate arbiter of whether it was worth your time. You will also sit in judgement on me."

Diane was born at the end of World War II, a time-frame that relates to the birth of my own father, so I was intrigued to compare the stories that Lina shares with those that I have heard from my own family. First in World War I, in the story of her father, then in World War II, with her fiancé who commits suicide, we see the damage that wars wreaked on families. Even those who survived the trenches didn't come back undamaged and several generations of men, and their families, had to deal with what would now be labeled PTSD. What I found fascinating was to see how the women and children adapted to living with the "new" husbands and fathers that returned. There is a wealth of experiences to be shared and explored, and I did find this aspect very interesting. 

After giving up her daughter, Lina works as a war correspondent, revealing details of many global conflicts of the post-war years, which was equally fascinating. However, I did find Lina to be quite self-important and annoying. As a mother myself, I found it hard to accept the idea of giving up a 14-month-old baby, whatever your personal situation, and her tone is quite arrogant and pretentious at times.

It's an interesting read though, full of interesting insight into the two world wars and the damage they caused, even to those who stayed at home.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

ISBN (Paperback): 9781787198142
ISBN (Ebook): 9781787198135
Price: £8.99 (Paperback) £5.99 (Ebook)
Extent: 288 pages
Format: 198x129mm
Rights Held: World

Check out what everyone else thought on The Reckoning Blog Tour.

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book from the publisher in order to share my honest opinion.


  1. I would most likely find her annoying as well. My Mum was born in 1944, and grew up without a father. She was mainly brought up by her grandma.

    1. I'd never really thought about it but it's a fascinating generation and one that should be more widely featured in novels :)


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