Rural Ireland in the 1960s: if you were a boy, you listened to Luxembourg on the wireless, went to the pictures, went hurling up the fields with your best friend, thought about what the big boys got up to with the girls, and in particular what your brother did with his girlfriend, Minnie. Your mam ruled the house and you watched out for your father - the old lad - who was liable to fly into rages and give you a right ringer when you weren't expecting it. Most of all, you knew everything about the village where you lived, and everyone there. And Tony did; he was one smart boy, ready for anything - at least he thought he was until the day he saw his father with Mrs Rourke and was involved in an accident that changed everything.
Dancing with Minnie the Twig is Tony's story. It is a haunting and very special novel as, on the day of his funeral, he watches his family, friends and the rest of the community arrive at the church and prepare for the service to mark the end of his short life. In terms of its rural setting and its focus on a small community that, even in Ireland, has long since ceased to exist, the book has real echoes of Dancing at Lughnasa. It's Irish in the best sense of the word; the characters step out of the pages to meet you, and although Tony is dead, his narrative voice blazes with life. Very funny in parts, the novel is overlaid with a melancholy for times past that lingers long after the final page has been turned.
A promising debut by any standard ... The sense of a time and place about to change forever is achieved with no little subtlety ... Keeps the reader hooked right to the end
'One of the simplest and blackest rites of passage books you will come across'