This is the debut novel from Tramp Press, and it’s one I’ve been very excited about getting hold of since hearing the very welcome news of the emergence of a new publisher.
Sandrine comes to Ireland from Zimbabwe, leaving her husband and son behind. She feels the journey will at least afford her the experience of hope and give her the opportunity to earn money to send home. People are living without food and children aren’t going to school as their parents have no money to send them. She’s unlikely to replaced and her school will lack a teacher.She contemplates going to England but Ireland is viewed as being a more gentle, kinder place. The flight is her first experience of being in an overwhelming minority. She looks down on her country during the flight and wonders what could really be worth leaving home.
The book is set around the time of a referendum on citizenship in Ireland. The country is changing with many different nationalities arriving and Sandrine feels that some are more accepted than others.
She gets work looking after Tom and Clare, a couple in their 70s that are in need of care, each of them suffering from dementia. They’ve lived in America and Vietnam and their daughter Elizabeth is certainly well familiar with the experience of being seen as a foreigner.
Tom and Clare’s story is handled very sensitively by Frawley and some of the book is just heartbreaking. Elizabeth watches their condition get worse and we’re given a totally engrossing story of families being torn about by ill-health and the need to locate themselves away from home. It’s a very strong work that beautifully handles issues of identity and belonging and is a valuable vision of the Ireland we live in today.