The Reckoning by Clar Ni Chonghaile Legend Press October 15th 2018
I have a story to tell you, Diane. It is my story and your story and the story of a century that remade 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 judgment on me.”
In a cottage in Normandy, Lina Rose is writing to the daughter she abandoned as a baby. Now a successful if enigmatic author, she is determined to trace her family’s history through the two world wars that shaped her life.
But Lina can no longer bear to carry her secrets alone, and once the truth is out, can she ever be forgiven?
World War 1 and 2 were some of the hardest times this country and indeed other European countries have endured, yet it was not just the countries that suffered, it was also each individual person wether they fought on the frontline or stayed at home.
Lina Rose was a woman entering her twilight years, we first met her in France as she wrote to the daughter she gave up for adoption in the years following the ending of World War 2. What follows is a poignant, emotional series of thoughts, reasons and justifications for her actions over the intervening years.
I challenge anyone not to be moved by what they read. Lina’s story is one of personal tragedy and turmoil, yet I never felt sorry for her. Chonghaile’s skill was in making Lina pragmatic, and stoical to the point that I had to admire her. Yes, some of the decisions she made were wrong, but who is to say that we would not make the same ones, if we found ourselves in similar circumstances. Lina’s approach seemed to be one of survival, a life that she could live to the full, a life for her child that would be better than the one she could give her. And what a life Lina led, one of travel and danger, as though she was punishing herself for the decisions she had made, but one where she found herself and at times was happy.
Chonghaile’s narrative brilliantly captured the many countries Lina visited, none were more vivid than those in Africa, where you could almost feel the simmering heat and get lost in the descriptions of the beautiful landscape.
What struck me more than anything was the way in which Chonghaile was able to dig deep and really understand the cruel ravishes of war that both Lina’s, father and her love Robert suffered. We can never imagine the untold horrors that they both faced, or the terror they felt that each day but Chonghaile’s skill was that she used her narrative to paint a picture, a picture of the haunted and gaunt look on their faces and the terror in their eyes. I just wished that they had the knowledge that we have today so that they need not have suffered, that their relatives would not have suffered and they could have received help to live their lives to their full potential.
For all its sadness, The Reckoning was also a story of hope, of forgiveness, and love, of a person’s sheer determination to survive despite the odds.
The Reckoning is a haunting story, a lament to the fallen and those who survived, it was a story that held me in its awe and captivated me in the beauty of the writing.
It is a story that, will stay with me for a long time, one I will not forget.
I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The reckoning to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour
About the author
Clar Ni Chonghaile is the author of FRACTURED (2016) and RAIN FALLS ON EVERYONE (July 2017)
Clár Ní Chonghaile was born in London but grew up in An Spidéal, County Galway. She left Ireland aged 19 to join Reuters in London as a graduate trainee journalist. Clár has been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, living and working in Spain, France, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Kenya.
She now lives in St Albans, England, with her husband and two daughters. Her debut novel, Fractured, was published by Legend Press in 2016.