The Glorious Heresies, by Lisa McInerney

The more you read of Lisa McInerney’s debut, The Glorious Heresies, the more you can understand why her book was unanimously deemed winner by the judges of the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction.

She crafts a good tale and presents a roller-coaster ride of a novel; it is fizzing, spitting, occasionally lyrical and has its roots in McInerney’s first foray into writing; her much applauded blog about life on a Galway estate.

What is it all about?

The book is set in Cork, and starts with a series of firsts; first love, first sexual awakening, first murder.

Maureen, the linchpin of the novel, didn’t mean to do it by all accounts. But she protected herself from an intruder with the only thing she had to hand: “Belted him… With the Holy Stone.” Her first murder is the catalyst for a sequence of events, which change the course for the book’s vividly descriptive characters and ensures their lives become irrevocably intertwined.

It is well executed and the pace doesn’t drop for a moment as we follow Maureen, who needs to come to terms with her past before she can focus on a future; her gangster son Jimmy, an automaton delivering his special breed of justice; the hapless Georgie who drifts from brothel, to drugs and back again… until her boyfriend doesn’t return one day and she discovers a dogged determination to find him; to the heart-breaking Ryan, who some might say was simply a victim of circumstance.

Whilst this is an impressive debut, there are moments where I found myself lost in the occasional penchant for excessive description.

The lilting dark humour is a relief, as the story travels to the depths with its gangsters, poverty, prostitution and drug abuse. But isn’t quite enough and towards the end I was desperate to see the light again.

However, McInerney is a bold and fearless storyteller and her presentation of characters and the situations she places them in is told with a lilting and compelling veracity.

Published by John Murray, ISBN: 978-1-444-79888-3

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