A Keeper by Graham Norton

I had no idea that Graham Norton had written novels until I saw a friend on Facebook comment on what a good read one of them was (I don’t remember which one). It was only a matter of time then before I sampled one myself.

I was not disappointed. I’m not sure that I expected something that was so well plotted. I imagined it maybe being more of a caricature-laden novel full of humour and daft episodes but what you actually have in A Keeper is something that is very well-crafted: a novel that is told through two narrative strands, entitled Now and Then, which run in tandem throughout the book and I have to say complement each other perfectly. I was impressed by the way that the stories past and present unfolded.

Elizabeth Keane is back in Ireland, from New York, to sort out her affairs as her mother has passed away and left her her house on Convent Hill. However, Elizabeth discovers a lot more about her past, and her father especially, when she uncovers some love letters hidden in a box at the back of a wardrobe. At the same time, we learn about Elizabeth’s mother, Patricia and her relationship with Elizabeth’s father, Edward Foley and how it developed from a basic correspondence into something much more intense.

Elizabeth’s mother, Patricia’s story is intriguing: the strangeness of the situation in which she finds herself, especially in relation to her early meetings with Edward, is created so well – a hint of oddness just enough to make Patricia wary but not weird enough that her impressions can’t be rationalised away by her mind; that of a woman who is eager for a bit of attention and company from a reasonably handsome man.

There is darkness here but it is dealt with with a light hand so it is not too gritty and there is very much a human element to the events that happen and the way that the characters deal with them. As you would expect, there is also humour throughout the book, most notably in the vernacular of the Irish people who Elizabeth encounters.

I really enjoyed it. It was easy to read with a strong story and clear direction and enough revealed to keep you reading – just what you want in a popular fiction book. I will, to be sure, read more Norton novels.

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