Title: Wild Decembers
Author: Edna O’Brien
Publisher: Mariner Books
How I read it: Trade Paperback from off my own shelf
Rating: 4 Cups
Edna O'Brien's masterly new novel, WILD DECEMBERS, charts the quick and critical demise of relations between Joseph Brennan and Mick Bugler - "the warring sons of warring sons" - in the countryside of Western Ireland. With her inimitable gift for describing the occasions of heartbreak, O'Brien brings Joseph's live for his land to the level of his sister Breege's love for both him and his rival, Bugler. Breege sees "the wrong of years and the recent wrongs" fuel each other as Bugler comes to claim recently inherited acreage on what her brother calls "my mountain." A classic drama ensues, involving the full range of bonds and betrayals and leavened by the human comedy of which Edna O'Brien rarely loses sight. A dinner dance in the village of Cloontha and the seduction of Mick Bugler by an eager pair of uninhibited sisters rival Joyce in their hectic exuberance. But as the narrative unfolds, the reader is drawn into the sense of foreboding in a place where "fields mean more than fields, more than life and more than death too."
I purchased Wild Decembers because the Irish Times compared it to Wuthering Heights and while there are hints of Bronte’s novel peppered here and there, it did not really feel much like W.H. Once I stopped comparing the two novels I began to enjoy the work of Edna O’Brien.
The book was very descriptive and gave me a great sense of being in the Irish countryside. It also gave a brilliant sense of the three main characters, Breege, Bugler, and Joseph. The plot was a bit off kilter and draggy in some place especially when the sisters, Reena and Rita, come into the story as they feel out of place and make the novel drag.
Overall, I would compare this to more of a Shakespearean tragedy than a Bronte novel. While it was indeed draggy in parts I read the novel in less than two hours. Also I could not pinpoint a time for which the novel was taking place and I believe that the author did that to give the novel a sense of timelessness.
Would I read this novel again? Maybe…although the events that take place in the novel really make this a onetime read.
Would I recommend this novel? Of course, after disassociating this from W.H. I was able to enjoy the novel.
Who would I recommend this too? This is the perfect book for readers who enjoy family sagas as well as the Irish countryside.