The Last Bride in Ballymuir actually was a book I read because my mother had downloaded it from Amazon, and normally she has quite good taste in books. I thought it was an Irish writer, along the vein of what she normally reads (Maeve Binchy, Niamh Greene, Sinéad Moriarty, Patricia Scanlan, etc etc) and so plunged in without a second thought. Massive, massive mistake.
I don’t remember a lot about this book. I read the whole thing, I’m not one to give up, but it was a massive, massive mistake. This book is written by an American writer who has no idea what life in Ireland (even rural Ireland) is like, and who infuses all of her characters with the worst kind of stereotypes and horrendous, awful misappropriation of Irish culture going.
I have no issues with writers portraying Ireland – I’m not really one to call ‘cultural appropriation’ at someone non-Irish who writes something set in Ireland, but for the love of God, if you’re gonna do that, at least get it right. Nobody in Ireland walks on the sidewalk while they check their cell phone. And misspelling the word Gardaí is never a good sign either.
One of the goodreads reviews of this book states that “Dorien Kelly has an incredible knack with creating characters and settings that make you feel the mist of Ireland’s rain as you are reading the book.” This might be true if you’ve never been to Ireland, and are convinced that Irish people are a bunch of backwards leprechauns toting shillelaghs and crowing ‘top ‘o’ the morning’ to everyone you pass on the road, but as an actual Irish person, it was just painful to read.
Beyond that, the characters were one-dimensional and predictable, the story melodramatic as all get out (and not in a good way, like Picoult, just in an eye-rollingly painful way) and the story itself was just… dull. The entire premise the book is built on, that the main character had better get hitched soon, lest she be ‘The Last Bride in Ballymuir’ is not only ridiculous, but actually bordering on offensive.
One star. And that’s only because I match my scores here to my GoodReads scores, and they wouldn’t let me give it none.
*A note – after having read it, I was shocked at my mother’s appalling taste, and was wondering why she had gotten this book at all. After querying, it transpired that it was free on Amazon, hence why she gave it a go. I do not wish to besmirch my mother’s taste. She’s normally very good at book recommendations. This book isn’t even worth the $0.00 price tag, though.