cover image Walk the Blue Fields

Walk the Blue Fields

Claire Keegan, . . Grove/Black Cat, $13 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-7049-1

Seven foreboding tales from Keegan (Antarctica ) examine family, buried secrets and forbidden love in contemporary rural Ireland. In the title story, a priest questions his calling as he performs the wedding ceremony of a girl he once loved; after marrying her off to a lesser man, laments that “two people hardly ever want the same thing at any given point in life.” “The Forester's Daughter” follows a tragic chain of events prompted by a woman who agrees to marry against her better instincts “because if she said no, the question might never be asked of her again.” The final and strongest story centers on Margaret Flusk, a superstitious woman retreating from a personal tragedy into the farmhouse of her recently deceased cousin, who was a priest, and with whom she shared an abiding love. Word of her mysterious ability to heal soon gets out to the parish, breaking her isolation decisively. The more whimsical narratives fall a little flat (they're also brief), but in the longer, stronger pieces, Keegan's poetic prose, spot-on dialogue and well paced plot twists keep the pages turning through sadness, grief, rage and compromise. (July)