In an Ireland far removed from the familiar images of travel brochures, a bright teenager is heading for trouble: son of a single mother who has given up, rarely at school, taking drugs, and hovering on the fringes of the city's criminal underworld.
When he falls for Pat The Baker's sister his life changes irrevocably, not least because when she gets pregnant, Pat breaks his legs.
But as he tries to make a new start and adjust to being a lover and father, he realises he cannot evade vengeance forever.
THIS IS THE COUNTRY is a hard-hitting, tense and deeply moving novel that sets power and corruption against the fragile defences of love, friendship and family.
As gritty as it is tender, as funny as it is dark, it tells a riveting tale of survival against the odds.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 27/02/2006
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780340822166
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by Hagelstein
Billy is a young man in Ireland with a past as an addict and minor criminal. His best friend has died of AIDS, although at first Billy claims tetanus. Billy has to go on the run after crossing a powerful dealer – Pat ‘The Baker’ Baker, “a psychopath with Asperger’s Syndrome” by getting his favorite sister pregnant.Billy and Jazz – Pat Baker’s sister – settle in a distant quiet seaside town after their daughter is born, where he becomes a diesel mechanic and ship deliverer. The problem is that Pat Baker won’t forget them.There’s a sad beauty to the novel that comes from the pull between contemporary Irish life and the traditions of the past. It’s a story that gets better as it goes.
Review by AlisonY
I picked this up in the library on a whim. When I first read the synopsis about an off-the-rails teenager in Ireland from a bad estate who keeps getting into trouble, I was expecting this would be the usual stereotypical Irish novel - fun and gritty, but a little bit tired around the edges.A Booker longlister, this turned out to be a fabulous read. It took me about 50 pages to get into it - at the start it was definitely feeling a bit like a Roddy Doyle book or Ardal O'Hanlon's The Talk of the Town (I feel like I've read too many of those now) - but this novel had a lot more depth to it. This is a story of real, honest love, of a bad boy trying to make good, of a past that won't release it's hold on him. Opening with the protagonist's arrival as a witness at court, you know from the beginning that something has happened, but Wall spins a gripping tale, leaving you constantly turning the pages with a sense of foreboding about what's going to transpire. A small-time player with the bad boys in the town, the leading character ups the ante when he gets the sister of a local gangster pregnant, unintentionally propelling himself into the big league at a time when he wants to forge a path on the straight and narrow.Written in the first person in the voice of the main character, the prose is modern and the rhetoric 'Irish wide boy' urban street talk, yet somehow Wall also manages to make it poetic and lyrical in places, strongly evoking the sense of quiet solidarity and contentment in the gentle harbour village, and the juxtaposed sense of malice and fear around the estates of the town.I found this to be a very emotional book - a novel about love and loyalty, grudges and revenge, the harsh reality of being tarred by your past, of wanting release but finding yourself pulled back into the quagmire by an invisible thread. A surprising but well deserved 4.5 stars.