Review:The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

I read this book slowly at first but once it took off, half way through, I was fixated on racing towards the climax!
The Amber Fury is a psychological novel, a genre I haven’t read in a while and a guilty pleasure, to be honest.

It’s a story about Alex, a teacher who we know is grieving but we don’t know why. We hear her story through direct narration and this intersperses with diary entries from one of her students.
Alex moves of Edinburgh from London to try to cope with her grief and loss and takes on a drama therapy class at a very challenging school type place. She has a full caseload and is warned off a certain group of students. One of these students is the second teller of the story. Alex teaches them all about Greek tragedies, probably not a good idea to teach about the passion of murder and mayhem as per Sophocles. She covers all the plays that I personally love, giving a neat summary for the non Greek tragedy reader. This works well as it seamlessly weaved into the story, with plays like Electra and Oedipus the King. It’s only when we start to see the students really engage with the themes and actions of the characters in the tragedies that we predict the real tragedy of the story.
This is a very engaging and well written story that paces along well, it’s a story about grief and about how humans simply want to connect with each other. A story of boundaries between student and teacher and how these can be manipulated. A story of a chaotic tragedy where the reader will feel sympathy for the good and bad guy. And they are the hallmarks of good Greek tragedy.
It’s published by Corvus Publishers.


History Festival of Ireland in Duckett’s Grove

For the second year( I think!) running the History Festival has been drawing in the crowds of history buffs, professors, nerds and this year-a Rozzie!

Our friend, Terry, who may or may not be happy for mentioning him decided to go this year. And about time, he is officially one of those people who can call themselves a Historian!

Duckett’s Grove is ruined mansion and gothic revival castle with pleasure gardens to boot. It also has a most tempting Tearooms ran by the lovely Madeleine Forrest who bakes naughty and non naughty treats every Sunday, all day. And quite easily, the best coffee served in a big, hearty mug and a bit of chat from herself!

Fifty leading historians and thinkers from Ireland, the UK and the USA all came along to entertain the packed out crowds over the weekend of 15-16 June and there was a great range of debates, discussions, readings and interviews.

First, we went to the Kavanagh epic one-man poetic play, The Great Hunger. It went down well and Peter Duffy who took on the solo roll was outstanding. Afterwards, we sauntered onto a whole heap of events from a genealogy clinic appointment to a live chat with Nicky Byrne from Westlife and his family who were brought up in tenement Dublin. When I saw his name first, I wasn’t keen as their music wouldn’t be my thing but Turtle Banbury, the curator of the festival kept it lively and history focused and fun! He was aided  by Nicola, Morris, the director of  Timeline Research. Terry went to loads of other “serious history events, like” and he left Carlow a right, little, happy historian.

It was €20 for a day pass which gave you entry to the plays, debates, clinic and films that were being shown all day through. Brilliant value and fabulous setting. We are proud people in Carlow. Don’t miss the next one!