Read Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty Free Online
Book Title: Grace Notes|
The author of the book: Bernard MacLaverty
Date of issue: December 31st 1997
ISBN 13: 9780393045420
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.68 MB
Edition: W. W. Norton & Company
Read full description of the books Grace Notes:The author Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast, and lived there until 1975, when he moved to Scotland with his wife and children. This book was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize. I reread this novel as part of a 2017 reread challenge some of my GR friends are doing (or at least talking about). The novel opens with Catherine McKenna returning to Northern Ireland for her father's funeral. She comes from a small unnamed town about 40 miles from Belfast, somewhere near Cookstown. She is the only child of a Catholic pub-owner, Brendan McKenna and his wife, who is referred to in the novel as "mother" by Catherine. Catherine has been away for 5 years, living in Glasgow and on the island of Islay. When asked about Glasgow, she says "It's like Belfast, but without the killing". Although the time frame is not indicated, the book was published in the mid-1990's, and the Troubles are still going strong in the story.
Catherine, who attended a convent school, was noticed to be a musically gifted child. Her parents sent her for piano lessons to Miss Bingham, who fortunately nourished her talents. Catherine later goes to Queens University studying composition, and after graduation to Glasgow for further studies. It is after this that she drifts away from Northern Ireland and her parents.
The novel has several themes - Catherine's dysfunctional relationship with her parents, her inner life as a composer, and struggles in her personal life. She suffers from depression, and though at times she is highly creative in her musical accomplishments, it does not seems to be a bipolar disorder. My favorite sections of the book described her work in Kiev with a Russian composer and the end of the novel . The sources for her creative inspirations are varied and at times surprising. The Russian composer Shostakovich's 13th symphony Babi Yar is about a massacre of Russian Jews. This leads to this : " Catherine thought of the geography of places of death in her own country ...Cornmarket, Claudy, Teebane Crossroads, Six Mile Water, the Bogside, Greysteel, the Shankill Road, Long Kesh, Dublin, Darkley, Enniskillen, Loughinisland, Armagh, Monaghan Town". A number of these places were unfamiliar - Teebane Crossroads, Claudy, Greysteel - but all were sites of killings during the Troubles. As Catherine later refers to Ireland, it is the "Land of Saints and Scholars and Murderers". It is perhaps understandable why Catherine experiences depression - her family, her country, her personal life, and her artistic struggles.
The novel is filled with a great amount of description and detail. Some sections of the book included details that helped illuminate the time and place and the people such as the wake of Catherine's father in their home, the old customs when a family member dies were still part of life in Northern Ireland at the time. There were other sections with too much detail (I don't want spoilers so enough said) that seemed unnecessarily detailed for me. This is the reason for my 4.5 rather than 5 star rating.
MacLaverty surprised me with his insights into a woman's mind and spirit. His descriptions of the artistic process and musical composition captivated me, although I cannot judge how true they are to the process. The title itself Grace Notes refers to a musical embellishment that is essential to Catherine's view of the composing process. I have other MacLaverty books on my shelf which I have yet to read, and some I will reread.
I edited out the spoilers because I discovered the whole review was hidden. This makes no sense as the spoilers included are not revealed until the reader clicks on the link.
Read information about the authorBernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast (14.9.42) and lived there until 1975 when he moved to Scotland with his wife, Madeline, and four children. He has been a Medical Laboratory Technician, a mature student, a teacher of English and, for two years in the mid eighties, Writer-in-Residence at the University of Aberdeen.
After living for a time in Edinburgh and the Isle of Islay he now lives in Glasgow. He is a member of Aosdana in Ireland and is Visiting Writer/Professor at the University of Strathclyde.
Currently he is employed as a teacher of creative writing on a postgraduate course in prose fiction run by the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen.
Bernard MacLavertyHe has published five collections of short stories and four novels. He has written versions of his fiction for other media - radio plays, television plays, screenplays. Recently he wrote and directed a short film 'Bye-Child'
Add a comment to Grace Notes
Read EBOOK Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty Online free