by Aidan Parkinson
Caffrey needs a wife. He’s stolen the money, he’s got the house, and now he wants the girl. Nuala, the first girl he ever kissed, arrives home from Madrid to visit her Dad. Really she’s home to torment the executives of a French corporation who think they are going to take over Lochard’s already famous spring water. We are just outside Dublin in an idyllic landscape that Nuala has loved since her childhood.
Caffrey’s brother, Mel, a monk, is losing his faith and is frantic to find something to fill the gap. He sees Nuala in the street one day and remembers her from their childhood. He is smitten, becomes obsessed, stalks her, writes her, decides he has to have her, and, crippled with shyness and inexperience, plots a course to get to her.
The brothers realize they love the same woman and their once loving relationship becomes fraught, then impossible. Mel idealizes Nuala and vows to keep his sordid brother away from her. Caffrey dismisses Mel as a sap and is convinced he doesn’t have a hope with Nuala. As children, the brothers were inseparable; now, it’s war.
Alongside this conflict, the Save the Lake activists are busy with their plots. Nuala has been called home because she is a hard-nosed activist, as are Toirleach, Pierre and Mrs. Buckley. Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien, however, are a sweet old couple whose prime concern is the effect global warming will have on their garden. Sister Teresa, also a sweetheart, is sweetly devoted to every sweet cause in town.
Aquavive is the corporation and Desmoulins is the executive who is working with the town’s corrupt Mayor, Jem Jones. Mrs. Buckley successfully organizes a group of local kids to torment Desmoulins and his team. Nuala hires Donal, a Republican operative from the Falls Road, to do a more heinous job.
Caffrey decides to have a house-warming party at which he intends to propose to Nuala. The new house is a mess and the only crew he can get are a veritable Babel: two Russians, two Nicaraguans, a French guy who speaks Gaelic, a thatcher from Dublin, and so on. The renovations are catastrophic.
The day of the party, the whole town is there. (Including Desmoulins who is wondering how to explain his abject failure to his boss back in Paris.) When Nuala arrives Caffrey takes her on a tour indicating as subtly as he can — which is not very subtle at all — that the house is hers, if she will have him. The house is situated idyllically in a gentle valley at the other end of which is the mountain lake. The unfinished decorations have a surreal feel to them. Electronic sliding French doors, theatrical lighting, a Led Zeppelin cover band. Caffrey, having chosen his moment, goes on one knee and reaches into his pocket.
Just then Mel attacks Caffrey and the epic battle begins. Before long the guests are betting on who will win the fight, which goes on chaotically from room to room. Mrs. Caffrey, in a wheelchair, is betting against both her sons. The party soon escalates out of control. There are hilarious couplings and shocking betrayals. Vengeance, angst, and jaw-dropping epiphanies. Then — unexpected, perhaps, or not, as the case may be — the final spark that ignites the story into a riotous climax.
You can purchase the book online from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/100211.
eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.