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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Maggie O'Farrell
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The Last British Dambuster: One man's extraordinary life and the raid that changed history
George Johnny Johnson
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Professional Reader 50 Book Reviews 80% Reviews Published

Brutal and powerful in its execution

Cal - Bernard MacLaverty

The mid 70's to early 80's was a time fraught with danger in Northern Ireland. As an expat living and working in England I am well versed to understand the mindset of the various embattled groups that continued to carry on a war of attrition not only against the so called enemy (police and army) but equally against each other and if you happened to be of the wrong religion residing in the perceived wrong locality intimidation was an everyday occurrence.


Cal McCluskey and his dad are a catholic family living in a predominately protestant locality...."he could not bear to look up and see the flutter of Union Jacks, and now the red and white cross of the Ulster flag with it red hand.".... Cal was often the target of insults, taunting, and intimidation, but he tried to ignore, picking up his Giro on a regular basis and hanging around street corners, ripe pickings for paramilitary scouts. So he helped with the "cause" and when needed would act as a driver for his fellow republicans Crilly and Skeffington. With so much free time, and little hope of a job in this divided land, he was often to be seen perusing books and cassettes in the local library where one day he notices a new woman behind the counter. What follows is a beautifully written  story of a love affair that is doomed to failure from the start. Cal holds a secret that if revealed to Marcella would end their relationship as he is torn between loyalties to his friends and honesty to his lover.


The language and descriptive prose of the author reminded me of the many years I lived in a country riddled with hypocrisy and bigotry....."the weight and darkness of Protestant Ulster, with its neat stifled Sabbath towns.".... "people were dying everyday, men and women were being crippled and turned into vegetables in the name of Ireland. An Ireland which never was and never would be."....."I like the look of Donegal where nothing grows. Beaches, bogs and mountains."......"The parade led by Evangelists screaming about sin and death and damnation."....


The ending when it happens is unexpected and sudden in its execution and brutality but I felt that it suited so well the time and events in such a deeply divided community. Highly Recommended.