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The Reunion By Roisin Meaney

The Reunion‘The Reunion’ is the latest book by Irish author, Roisin Meaney.

Caroline, now a successful knitwear designer, spends her time flying between her business in England and her lover in Italy. As far as she’s concerned, her school days, and what happened to her the year she left, should stay in the past. Eleanor, meanwhile, is unrecognisable from the fun-loving girl she was in school. With a son who is barely speaking to her, and a husband keeping a secret from her, revisiting the past is the last thing on her mind. But when an unexpected letter arrives for Caroline in the weeks before the reunion, memories are stirred. Will the sisters find the courage to return to the town where they grew up and face what they’ve been running from all these years?

This is actually the first book I’ve read by Roisin and it was such a lovely introduction to the Irish author.

In this book, we meet sisters Caroline and Eleanor just at the moment that Caroline receives an invite to her secondary school reunion which brings her back to a difficult time in her life.

The book is spilt into two parts, the first part is set in the 1990’s whilst part two moves forward to 2015 and the chapters alternate between the sisters as they both deal with different dramas in their lives.

In 1993, Caroline is raped by a family friend and confides in her mother, instead of being there for her during this traumatic time, her mother ships her off to England for an abortion to live with her mother’s cousin, Florence. Caroline is totally against the abortion and instead decides to carry the baby full term and to put it up for adoption whilst staying with Florence. Florence is a rough and ready type of person, who takes no nonsense but has a huge heart and is there for Caroline. She’s a traditional woman with little needs who fled Ireland many years ago and has an eclectic group of friends who distract Caroline from her pregnancy and fears. Back in Ireland, her younger sister Eleanor, is grieving for her older sister and her first boyfriend who had just dumped her. Bitter and unhappy, Eleanor is determined to move on and find a new love.

The story alternates from the narrative of both sisters as they deal with the troubles of life, with Caroline, it’s the guilt of giving her only child away and with Eleanor, it’s a tragedy of losing a child in an accident and not being able to move on.

Warmly written with a collection of entertaining and kind characters, this book was a lovely introduction to the Irish author. The story tackles the stigma of teenage pregnancy and how it was handled back in rural Ireland, in the 1990s, the shame that it brought on the family. The girls mother is a terribly hard hearted woman who’s primary concern is her appearance and what other people think. She can’t bear the thought of a teenage pregnancy and even when Caroline confides in her about the rape, she almost blames her for the attack.

The book travels neatly between the sisters and their stories weave together in a fluid manner. Engaging from the very start, this story was charming and a delight to read. Filled with drama and second chances, ‘The Reunion’ is a wonderful tale.

You can buy The Reunion from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Reunion Book Tour – For The Love Of Cats By Roisin Meaney

Roisin MeaneyToday on the book tour and the publication day for Roisin Meaney’s brand new book, ‘The Reunion’, Roisin talks about her relationship with cats.

Growing up, we always had a cat about the place. This was because of my mother – not because she was a cat lover, more because she had (and still has) a huge mouse phobia. To this day, she can’t even say the word; she spells it out, and only then if she absolutely has to. Even if an m-o-u-s-e appears on the television screen, she’ll shriek as loudly as if one had materialised on the floor in front of her.

So there was always a cat around the place. Not in the house, mind – she’d grown up in a family where houses were for people, and yards and gardens were for animals, so our cat of the moment would roam the garden, and use the shed for rainy days. Of course, we’d sneak it into the house the minute her back was turned, and shoo it out when she was due home. We all loved cats, me especially.

In due course we grew up and moved out. For the first few years I lived in a series of rented houses with various combinations of pals, so a pet of any kind really wasn’t practical. As soon as I bought my first house, a cat was top of my to-get list – but before I could source one (or more), they came to me.

I glanced out of my kitchen window one morning, just a few days after moving in, and there was a beautiful young tabby sitting on the sill, gazing in at me. I opened the back door and she scampered down and away. Undeterred, I left out a saucer of chopped-up sausage, and half an hour later she was back – and she wasn’t alone. Her companion was slightly smaller, and black and white. They made quick work of the sausage, and promptly vanished again.

It took about a week for the tabby to step inside, nearly a month for the black and white, but eventually they both settled in and made themselves at home. I enquired around – they didn’t look like strays – but nobody seemed to know who owned them. I took them to the vet and discovered that they were two spayed females. I kept asking people in the neighbourhood, but no owner was ever found for either of them, and they seemed happy to relocate from wherever they’d come from to my house.

I never named them – it somehow didn’t seem right, when I was pretty sure somebody somewhere had given them names already – but a little neighbour decided to call the tabby Tigger, and visitors to the house christened the black and white Tux. They were great pals, but I assumed not siblings. I enjoyed having them around – I lived alone, and I loved to see them dozing on the couch or sunning themselves on the window-sill as I wrote – and thankfully they didn’t seem too interested in bothering the bird population of the neighbourhood.

They’d been with me for several years when I went to Spain for a week, leaving a brother and my father doing duty in my absence. I’d done this several times before and it had worked a treat – one or other of the cat-sitters would call by the house a couple of times a day and feed and water the pair – but this time things didn’t go according to plan. Tux was knocked down on the road one morning, and buried by my father before I got home.

Tigger and I mourned and then recovered, and a few years later I chanced going away again. This time Tigger disappeared, about three days after my departure. I didn’t worry unduly – she was put out at my absence, and would return, I was sure, when I did.

The Reunion

But she didn’t. I never saw her again. I reasoned that she was old – I couldn’t be certain, but I thought she was about fifteen – and it was her time. I missed her; the house felt too big without her, too silent with no more purring.

It took a year before I was able for more cats. This time I chose them. With a friend’s help I found two ginger siblings, a boy and a girl. They were about seven weeks old, and so cute that I wanted to cuddle them to death. I brought them home (thankfully I managed to resist the cuddling-to-death urge) and immediately they became the bosses. For the first few weeks I was run ragged: it was like having two baby humans to look after. They demanded food, scratched the furniture, launched themselves at me anytime the opportunity presented itself. I would corral them in the kitchen at night (along with their litter tray) and retire, exhausted, to bed.

They were one year old in November. They’re pals (most of the time) but they couldn’t be more different. Fred is king of the cuddles, happiest when he’s having his head scratched or his belly tickled. Ginger comes for cuddles on her terms. He’s solid with a shaggy coat: she’s petite with much softer fur. He’ll eat anything: she’s picky. For the first few months I kept them mostly indoors; now they come and go during the day and night through a cat flap I had installed in the wall of the utility room.

They’re merciless killers. Birds, mice, anything that moves. My neighbour to the rear doesn’t talk to me since they decimated his wild bird population last spring. I’m constantly finding dead creatures in the garden, and occasionally in the utility room. (And sometimes they’re not quite dead; just as well I didn’t inherit my mother’s phobia.)

But I wouldn’t be without them. They keep life interesting.

Gory, but interesting.

You can buy The Reunion from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Have Laptop, Will Travel By Roisin Meaney

Roisin MeaneyToday I am hosting the book tour for Roisin Meaney’s new book ‘Two Fridays In April’ and Roisin is chatting about her travelling and writing adventures.

Oops, I did it again…I booked me a trip ‘foreign abroad’. Not, I hasten to add, to lie in the sunshine reading books – although there might be a very small bit of that going on from time to time. No, this is one of my writing breaks, the trips I like to take when I’m in the middle of a book, the trips that involve just me and the laptop. We up sticks and head somewhere on our own for a few weeks, usually to a place we’ve never been, in order to give our uninterrupted attention to the manuscript in hand.

These forays serve a dual purpose – they allow me to step off my usual social media treadmill (I generally pick a place that’s not served by the internet, and find a café in the evenings for a half hour of email catch-up) and they shake up the writing purely by the act of taking me out of my comfort zone and plonking me into new surroundings, so the familiar routines have to be at least tweaked, if not done away with altogether. With everything a little bit different, it tends to affect the way I put words down on paper. It’s hard to define, but a move to somewhere new usually turns out to be a good move for the writing.

Two Fridays In April It hasn’t always worked out. Last March I headed to Puglia in the south of Italy. Booked an apartment for three weeks in a medium-sized town called Monopoli. Installed myself and tried to write…and it just didn’t happen. The weather was far colder than I had been led to believe by the travel company I’d booked through; the apartment which would have been perfect in the summer months was woefully inadequate for winter, having big high-ceilinged rooms with no proper central heating. My first week I invested in a heavy jacket, fur-lined boots, a hot water bottle, fleece pyjamas and a sweater, and still I spent most of the time shivering.

Inevitably, the writing suffered: I went home when my allotted time was up with a pathetic word count to show for the break. On the plus side, my running improved no end – it was one of the few things that warmed me up – and I provided daily entertainment for the old Italian gentlemen who would gather each morning on the benches that overlooked one of the town beaches, muffled and swaddled in overcoats, hats and scarves, who would look at me in wonder as I ran past in my gear, calling out a cheery buongiorno! And Monopoli was really a lovely place, when I gave in after about ten days and decided to be a tourist instead of a writer.

Another time I went to France, to a village in the Montagnes Noir so tiny that it had no shop, bar or café to its name: the main meeting place of the villagers was in the square each morning as they awaited the arrival of the van that sold bread and croissants. Good writing there, and five pounds of a weight gain in three weeks. (Good bread.)

The converted olive mill in Spain was good too – a month there, a good half a book written by the time I went home. No weight gain, thanks to the beach a good three miles away which was far too beautiful not to visit it at least four times a week.

As I write I’m packing my bag for Lanzarote. As you read, I’ll be there. I plan to run in the early morning sunshine and write for the rest of the day, with maybe a swim towards evening and a glass or two of something convivial to accompany the sunset. I have high hopes of a big word count. Wish me luck.

You can buy Two Fridays in April from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.