Book review: Always You by Erin Kaye
Because when family pressures mount, it turns out that they are not as brave as they thought they were.
Erin Kaye’s warm Irish novels always pull at the heartstrings and her new, compelling and bittersweet saga of two star-crossed lovers battling hidden secrets and decades of prejudice is high on emotion and full of her trademark rich, imaginative storytelling.
Always You is a moving tale of two halves which whisks us back to 1992 and the meeting of two mismatched university students who fall in love against the odds, and then propels us forward 20 years to an unexpected reunion to ask if love can work the second time around.
Sarah Walker met Cahal Mulvenna when they were students at university in Coleraine and it was pretty much love at first sight. They both hailed from Ballyfergus but that was where the similarities ended because Sarah was what Cahal called an ‘uptown girl’ and he was her ‘downtown guy.’
The reality was that Sarah’s widower father was a strictly Protestant RUC police detective, a man who saw the world in terms of black and white, regarded people as either good or bad, and the Mulvennas, low class, Catholic and with a criminal background, definitely fell on the wrong side of his ‘moral fence.’
But Cahal, determined and focused beneath his fun-loving exterior, declared to Sarah that he would not ‘let anything, or anyone in this world, come between us.’
Fast forward to 2012 and something has gone horribly wrong. Cahal is out of the picture and Sarah is divorced from her childhood friend Ian Aitken, a conservative, steadfast and staid man built in the same mould as her father, and has two children from her failed marriage.
So what happened? When Cahal, now a high-flying businessman living in Australia, unexpectedly walks back into Sarah’s life, they discover that the embers of their love are still burning brightly.
But are they strong enough now to overcome past prejudices, lies and devastating family secrets to rekindle their doomed romance?
Kaye’s gentle, affectionate story is more than just a heart-wrenching romance; she also explores what it means to have been born and raised amidst the conflict in Northern Ireland, the importance of family, the relationships that that can make or break us and the resilience of the human spirit.
Moving, uplifting and with a few startling twists and turns which add extra poignancy and depth to an absorbing tale of troubled times past and present, Always You is undoubtedly one of Kaye’s best books so far.
(Avon, paperback, £6.99)