Pat Grant's childhood is played out against a bleak Ulster landscape at the height of the Troubles. One by one, his brothers leave home, and he is left with his increasingly eccentric father and helpless mother. Pat's teenage romance with Elaine looks at odds with the violence around them.
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(200mm x 127mm x 17mm)
Publisher: Dedalus Ltd
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
This intriguing title conveys no idea of the content of the book, and even when it has been read the reasons for the choice remain tantilizingly obscure. The Irish are famously charming and equally celebrated for telling you what they think you want to hear. This story is a rite of passage for a young boy named Pat Grant. But is it Pat Gray himself? The detail seems authentic enough at first glance. Pat Grant is a Belfast boy with an English mother and a totally uninvolved father, who advises his son to proclaim that he belongs to the Plymouth Brethren when he starts at a fiercely Protestant school. None of the other boys have ever heard of the Plymouth Brethren and he is at once suspected of being Catholic, although luckily for him he has an aunt on the right side. Suspicion remains, because his older brother abandons Oxford and returns to be an ardent republican activist. Pat falls in love with a Protestant girl, who is not adverse to sharing her body with a suspect Catholic, nor reading between the lines with others, including a young British officer. In the end, Pat sees no future in Northern Ireland; he writes to the girl inviting her to come away with him, but she does not respond, nor does she show up. The narrative shows little or nothing of the bitter antagonisms which tear Ulster apart. The impact of the Troubles on the story is minimal, the reaction of the characters to what is happening around them is almost dismissive. The characters themselves are nearly as insipid. However, The Political map of the Heart paints a fascinating picture of an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar detail. But it does not answer the question as to whether it depicts the real Ulster - or is it what the author thinks we would like to know about it. (Kirkus UK)
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