Despite its saccharine title, which overdoes the novel’s sunny disposition, this is a worthy read. In the voices of Faha, an older Ireland is brought to life. This is likely to be a popular summer read, transporting us to a world with fewer problems than our own. It has the ease of listening to an elder tell a family legend or a piece of local gossip. As Noel tells us, “when you get to a grandfather’s age, life takes on the quality of comedy, with aches”.
Charming is one word for Williams’ prose. It is also life-affirming and written with a turn of phrase that makes the reader want to underline something on every page. I suggest we all buy his books, pushing him into that realm of globally fashionable Irish writers (which he might not care about), but more importantly, sharing with a vast audience his humane and poetic world view... This is not a book to read for fast-moving developments. It is one to savour, slowly, like the way of life it enshrines. The supporting cast is huge, eccentric, frequently funny.
Williams has the eye of a poet and the raconteur’s knack for finding a tale in the most unpromising nook of everyday life, as a now-adult Noel, summoning the Faha of his nostalgic imagination, narrates an elegiac novel that’s careful always to offset the antic rural eccentricity with darker notes of loss.