I read this for 12 Tasks of the Festive Season: Task the Third: The Holiday Party:
-Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action. Examples would include holiday parties, country house hunting/weekend parties, weddings, etc.
I have to say that this hands down is my favorite Patrick Taylor book. Probably because it stars one of my favorite characters, Mrs. Kinky Kincaid.
This book takes place directly after "An Irish Country Christmas" with Kinky waiting at home for her doctor and Barry Laverty to return home from celebrating the Marquis Christmas Day party. Kinky is getting their dinner ready (and I am still flabbergasted at how much these people eat) while also providing treats to the local village children. Kinky takes them upstairs to get warm in the upstairs sitting room (parlor) and begins a ghost tale that took place back in 1922 (on Christmas Day) and then we have her remembering the events decades later with the children.
Taylor does a great job with Kinky's voice in this book. I got a great sense of her as a young girl (going by Maureen) who all she wanted in life was to be a school teacher.
Her older sister (Fidelma) starts courting a local young man (Conner) the whole family knew who was about to have something terrible happen to him due to his thumbing his nose about cutting down a Blackthorn tree which angers something called the Doov Shee in Ireland.
Who knew you could combine a somewhat scary ghost story with Christmas? It should not work, but ultimately does.
Besides the ghost story aspect, we also have some romance between Maureen and who readers know that one day a young man who will become her husband.
The contrast between Ballybucklebo and where Mrs. Kincaid grew up was nicely done. And I as a long term reader was very surprised about how smart she was and how much she really wanted to be a teacher. I thought it was great also to see a feminist bent to Maureen at her age and her not understanding why she could not have her teaching as well as a marriage.
The book flows seamlessly back and forth between Mrs. Kincaid story and then her later on reminiscing about the events that took place. We know that Barry had some interaction with Mrs. Kincaid and her ability to "see." I remember thinking that it was just something she said, but you find out in this book, Mrs. Kincaid, her mother, and other female family members have this gift as well. Maureen is able to see into the future sometimes and unfortunately cannot do anything to change what is coming.
I have to say the ending totally took me by surprise and I wanted to keep reading even after I finished the last page. This is one book that would do well with illustrations included one day I think. I could picture certain scenes in my head. But I think it would give certain parts of the story a darker bent if we could see actual pictures of things that are going on at the same time we are reading them.