Holding Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Graham Norton's masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.
The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of¬ two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste.
So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke - a former¬ love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 26 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||06 October 2016|
|Publisher||Hodder & Stoughton|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 6,564 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
471 in Suspense
532 in Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
1,774 in Suspense Thrillers (Books)
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Top reviews from Australia
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As I read the book over a period of about 5 weeks, I did find it rather difficult at times to follow the plot as it came and went from past to present time and from one sub plot to the next in quick succession. Most likely more seasoned readers or others reading the book over a period of days would not have struggled with this.
Main character is sympathetic. Supporting characters well drawn. Surprise twist at the end.
Good sense life if Ireland at the time. A book to make you feel good in the end.
The book characters were more whole and their actions suited them. The book, to me, was far more charming.
Top reviews from other countries
For fifteen-years, Sergeant Patrick James (PJ since his christening) Collins has kept a watchful eye on the residents of Duneen, just outside of Cork. In truth, there has been relatively little for the overweight PJ to keep under control with the overpriced grocery shop and garage of Main Streets the extent of the activity. The locals rub alongside fifty-three-year-old PJ well enough, keep him well-fed and are perfectly amicable, but he can’t shake the feeling that his weight and undemanding post has left him silently ridiculed. All that changes just as he is midway through eating a jam scone when a long dormant building development rolls into action and unearths what looks like human bones. Formerly a farm and now wildly overgrown, PJ has to inform Cork of the discovery, but with the gossip grapevine in overdrive the first rumours of just who the bones belong to soon make it to PJ’s ears. The word on Main Street is that the bones are those of Tommy Burke, and his disappearance years ago following his dalliances with two women was thought to be behind his sudden departure. Both of the women involved still reside in the village and a furious fist fight marked the height of a bitter tug of war over Tommy. Unhappily married and barely concealing her drink problem, mother of two Brid Riordan was once engaged to Tommy only to be deserted. For lonely Evelyn Ross, youngest of a trio of sisters who still live together in their old family home, life has passed her by after her adored Tommy disappeared and her domineering older sisters shoehorned her into never leaving Duneen. Yet it is not just these two women who are curiously ruffled by the discovery and PJ’s housekeeper, Mrs Meany, remains anxiously tight-lipped and reluctant to speculate. Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne arrives from Cork and sees what he has to work with in PJ (“Sergeant Sumo”) and his heart sinks, but PJ’s own appeal to the towns ladies soon starts to prove very beneficial…
Warm and witty, this is a feel-good read that offers some insightful and sensitive observations about all of the central characters. For all the humour and emotional upheaval, this is not an edge of the seat read but a perfect book for a rainy day that makes you appreciate the people who populate your social sphere. I hate saying that novels are ‘quiet’ because it makes them sound so bland and that isn’t the case as Norton’s wounded characters slowly reveal their scars and repair the wounds of the past.
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
Having read his autobiographies I knew he could write and that he does so with warmth, and I was thrilled that his first novel is funny, tender and heartbreaking sad in places, yet has a warmth and tenderness that leaves your heart aching for all the characters endure. He has an eye for the sorrow a heart can be broken by, yet at the same time the amazing capacity it can have to move on and find the strength to endure.
All the characters within its pages are loveable in some way and I become invested in the hope that they would survive all the drama their small and seemingly quiet community endure. Below the service of this apparently quiet Irish idyll, are a group of people caught up in a whirlwind secrets and painful regrets. They all have something that draws you to them, wanting to know what their secrets are.
Graham Norton displays in his writing an intrinsic understanding of the complexities of human nature. I found myself wanting to hug those whose hearts had endured so much pain, even those who had done wrong, were not your stereotypical villain, because you could understand where that action had come from, even while understanding the pain this had brought to those they sort to love and protect.
Writing the review weeks on from reading Holding, my heart still aches a little for the PJ, Bird and Evelyn and I find myself wishing Graham Norton would write a second novel featuring them, so I can find closure. But life is not made up of tidy endings, so I am left with the hope that this at least will not be the only novel he writes, because we need more from such a wonderfully perceptive writer.
It took me almost 60% of the way through the book before I really started to enjoy it. I couldn't really connect with any of the characters and just as I was starting to get a handle on someone's character we would jump to another person's tale and I would lose the thread again. It does all start to pull together very neatly but it does all rely on poor old PJ to hold everything together - never have I seen a sadder character in a book that I felt genuine empathy for; usually they just make me want to slap them. His relationship with the detective from Cork is wonderful and the slow burn of the two men getting to know and like each other (professionally and personally) is wonderfully drawn.
It deals with a lot of divergent themes as well. From the rather odd Ross sisters, all spinsters and living together in the old family home - even the village thinks there is something just a bit askew with them. Through weight issues caused by comfort eating, alcoholism, the trauma of assault on a young woman, the black stain of being pregnant out of wedlock and just the difficulties of living. Each issue is dealt with sympathetically and there is no judgment by the author of any character and why they are where they are in life; indeed many of them are given hope for a brighter future.
There are moments of wonderful insight in to how people tick in the book, unfortunately it is all encased in the back half of the book and I found it a bit of trial getting to the "good bits". You can actually see Mr Norton's writing style evolve on the page and I can't help but wonder if one additional re-write/edit to tighten up the first half wouldn't have made this a much, much better book.
Meeting Sergeant ‘PJ’ Collins, who works alone in the sleepy village of Duneen in the County of Cork, so he suddenly finds some excitement in his life as bones are dug up on a building site. This thus is the beginning of an investigation, something that it has to be admitted is outside the experience or capabilities of the sergeant, who has to contact his headquarters at Cork for a detective and forensics team. This though is only part of the story, as this takes us into the lives of certain of the villagers, and that of PJ, a lonely overweight, and shy man.
Taking in the past and present so we see how secrets have been well kept, but are now about to be revealed, and how relationships in the past and present have been altered or have come about, what with some animosity and a number of rumours that do the rounds of the village. The mystery side of the tale is okay as such, but not too taxing; it is on the look into personal lives and the problems that so many face that this is really a good read, after all we have love gone sour, affairs, jealousy and other elements all being seen here, including alcoholism. As such then this does give a realistic view of village life, not only in Ireland, but also other places around the world. With the flowering of PJ as such, so we see someone starting to re-engage with the world and become a bit more confident.
This in the whole then is a good solid and quite satisfying read and has been well thought out in a number of ways. It does in places feel slightly workmanlike, but then again this is a debut novel, and so not really that surprising. In all then this does make for a very good read.