Roisin Meaney books are never books that I buy myself. My mum really likes her, so I peruse her collection regularly to ensure that I am up to date with all of them. Meaney writes nice, gentle stories about a motley collection of Irish people in friendly Irish villages and towns, where everyone is interconnected in some way, and generally everything ends up with a happily ever after. The Last Week of May is no different to that. It’s a sweet and gentle story about a collection of people during a single week which may well change all of their lives.
The Last Week of May – Roisin Meaney
When May O’Callaghan throws in her predictable nine-to-five job and advertises her services as a general odd-jobber in the local newspaper, everyone thinks she has finally lost the plot. But when the offers from neighbours start flooding in, she becomes gardener, painter, window-cleaner and dog-walker extraordinare. But May quickly finds she has a lot more than overgrown lawns to deal with…
As May fits into her new life we meet her friend Pam and her husband Jack — but why is Pam terrified to tell Jack that she’s pregnant? And then there’s Denis and Bernard, May’s next-door neighbours, going about their business oblivious to the deadly threat that lurks close by. There’s Paddy, who lives on his own yet never seems to be at home. And Paul, three doors up, willing to risk everything for an affair with Carmel, the young teacher who has yet to learn that there’s a price to pay for having something that shouldn’t be yours. But what May can’t figure out is who gave her the beautiful shell necklace and was it really meant for her? On this one particular week, all is about to change for the inhabitants of Kilpatrick and May discovers that while only love can break your heart, only love can put it back together.
I enjoyed this book, much like I enjoy all of Roisin Meaney’s books. They’re not groundbreaking, and they don’t linger in my mind. The details of them all seem to blur together most of the time, and I have trouble telling one from another. That’s not necessarily a criticism. I like the atmosphere of all her books, and enjoy all of them as I’m reading them. They’re like a cup of hot chocolate made at home. They’re not gloriously indulgent (unlike, say, Butler’s hot chocolate) but they’re nice and warm and are fun.
The thing about this book, though, is that it’s called The Last Week of May, but set in June. So, having read the title, I was totally expecting May to be gruesomely murdered at the end of the book. I don’t know why I expected this. It would be totally out of keeping with everything that I’ve ever read by Roisin Meaney. It was nothing like the rest of the book. I have no idea why I got this notion into my head, but it meant that I finished the book with a little sort of disappointed huff that May did not, in fact, die in the book (spoilers, I guess…)
That was my own strange notion though. Everything Roisin Meaney writes is easy to read and enjoyable, with no gruesome murders, and this was no exception.