#Blogtour The Island Child by Molly Aitken @MollyAitken1 @canongatebooks

The Island Child by Molly Aitken  Cannongate January 30th 2020

Twenty years ago, Oona left the island of Inis for the very first time. A wind-blasted rock of fishing boats and turf fires, where the only book was the Bible and girls stayed in their homes until they became mothers themselves, the island was a gift for some, a prison for others. Oona was barely more than a girl, but promised herself she would leave the tall tales behind and never return. The Island Child tells two stories: of the girl who grew up watching births and betrayals, storms and secrets; and of the adult Oona, desperate to find a second chance, only to discover she can never completely escape. As the strands of Oona’s life come together, in blood and marriage and motherhood, she must accept the price we pay when we love what is never truly ours . . .

My Review

Irish writing seems to be at the forefront of publishing this year, authors old and new dazzling with their vibrant, lyrical novels.

The Island Child by Molly Aitken was another to add the list and oh how i loved it. The past and the present was brought beautifully to life by Aitken as she told the story of Oona, a child born during a storm, a mother who guarded her, cursed her, hid her love as she left her adrift unable to understand herself and her relationships with those around her.

It was hard to believe that not so long ago and, that some people still live on the small islands that surround Ireland, their lives harsh, once based on the land and fishing, now rooted in tourism.  Oona’s life path was to follow the lives of  previous island women, cooking, sewing, housework, tending the land for her family before finally marrying an islander and running her own home.

Aitken however had other ideas for her character, as she portrayed a child at odds with tradition, with her mother who kept her close, wrapped her in religion and the evil that she could become in the eyes of the Lord. You railed against that mother, wanted to cut the apron strings, for her to live in a world not dominated by a fear of God and his recriminations, of the danger that lurked in everything and everyone outside their doorstep. If Oona had been allowed freedom you wondered if she would have found later life so fraught and difficult, unsure of how to love, to open her emotions to others.

You watched as history began to repeat itself as her own daughter shunned her, as she became wrapped in grief and turmoil. Aitken dove deeper and deeper into her emotions, into the events that led her to return to the island, to face her fears, her family and you hoped an opportunity to rebuild.

If the novel was primarily about Oona, it was also a story wrapped in the mystical world of Irish folklore, of faeiries, of a sea that took a man under, before spewing them out. I loved how Aitken interlaced this mystical world into the islanders lives, it took the novel out of the ordinary, gave it an ethereal, and at times eerie feel. The weather and the rugged landscape, all played its part, Aitken’s narrative full of wonderful imagery, as the fog descended, as the waves crashed on the shore.

The Island Child was a brilliant mix of the modern, of the old, of a clash of culture, of tradition, of an ingrown fear of the unknown. It was a novel that beautifully captured your imagination and submerged you into Oona’s world. It was hard to believe this was Aitken’s debut and it will be interesting to read her next novel.

I would like to thank Canongate for a copy Of The Island Child to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

 

 

Molly Aitken was born in Scotland in 1991 and brought up in Ireland. She studied Literature and Classics at Galway University and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa. She was shortlisted for Writing Magazine’s fairy tale retelling prize in 2016 and has a story in the Irish Imbas 2017 Short Story Collection. Currently, she works as an
editor and ghostwriter and lives in Sheffield. The Island Child is her debut novel.
@MollyAitken1

 

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