On an island off the west coast of Ireland, the Moone family are shattered by tragedy.
Murtagh Moone is a potter and devoted husband to Maeve, an actor struggling with her most challenging role yet – being a mother to their four children. Now Murtagh must hold his family close as we bear witness to their story before that tragic night.
We return to the day Maeve and Murtagh meet, outside Trinity College in Dublin, and watch how one love story gives rise to another. And as the Moone children learn who their parents truly are, we journey onwards with them to a future that none of the Moones could predict . . .
Except perhaps Maeve herself.
I absolutely loved Helen’s The Lost Letters of William Wolf, and begged so many people to read it that when I was invited onto the blog tour for The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually I was over the moon. I was as captivated by this novel as I imagined and can’t stop thinking about it and its characters long after finishing it. I was whisked away to tiny Ines Óg with the Moone family and felt like I was right there beside them when the unspeakable tragedy happened and witnessed the ripples that go right through their family as if I was a member of it myself. I loved the way we are able to time travel back to their courtship in Dublin and live through their entire marriage with them, experiencing all the joys, agonies and moments in time as they evolve and grow as a family – which makes the dreadful events of the Winter concerned even more difficult to bear witness to.
The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually is an evocative, beautiful and pitch perfect rendering of a family who have to bear the unbearable . When I saw how much Emma Flint loved it, I knew that it would be right up my street as her picks are always spot on. The beauty of the writing and the strength of the characterisation are in perfect harmony throughout the novel and rendered me almost speechless at times as I felt that some scenes were just so poignantly and perfectly captured. Maeve is such a compelling character and her struggles with mental illness are a million miles away from today’s culture of empathy and ‘it’s good to talk’
Maeve has to deal with the black dog – or the ‘old crow’ in a period where mental health was totally stigmatised and misunderstood and her pain is borne all the more alone because of that. It is totally heartbreaking to see the impact on Maeve herself, but it is all the more poignant to see the struggles of her family to cope with the impact of her pain. Murtagh, Nollaig, Mossy, Dillon and Sive have to struggle to find their own way to cope when Maeve is lost to them and ostracised by the community through a lack of understanding and comprehension of what she is going through.
The Lost Letters of William Wolf captured my heart and let me feel like I’d spent real time with its characters, feeling their emotions and walking a mile in their shoes and this book goes one step further in making me feel like I’d lived these experiences as I read. I empathised with Murtagh’s guilt, feeling like he’d set much of her suffering in motion by asking her to surrender her dreams of acting to be his wife in the middle of nowhere. Murtagh’ struggles to cope, to be the husband, father, rock and support is more than anyone could maintain and we feel for his isolation and lack of support and understanding almost as much as we do for Maeve herself. You can see how strong their bond is as well as how consumed Maeve is by her illness that his love itself is not enough to pull her back from the abyss
The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually is a beautifully rendered portrait of the devastating impact of mental illness and the way that entire families lives can be affected by depression and mental struggles. I haven’t been this emotional about a novel for a long time – the last time it was this powerful was when I read We Were the Mulvaneys and I know that this book will definitely stay with me for just as long due to its beauty, its anguish and its refusal to gloss over either the bleakness or devastation that these characters have to endure. If you don’t have at least a lump in your throat at some point when reading this novel, check that you don’t actually have a heart of stone because some moments described here are far far to difficult to bear…
I’d like to thank Srija for the blog tour invite and can’t wait to see what Helen does next – buy yourself a copy here but stock up on some tissues first, you have been warned…
‘A beautiful bittersweet story of love, loss and families all set in the most irresistible of locations. Tears were shed!’ Graham Norton
‘I devoured this, falling in love with the setting and with every character. It is just glorious. A close-up on the everyday beautiful details that make up love’ Emma Flint, author of Little Deaths
Writer On The Shelf
Helen’s debut novel, The Lost Letters of William Woolf was published by Penguin in July 2018 in the UK, Ireland, Australia and South Africa and published in America by Harper Collins in June 2019. The novel is also available in translation in numerous foreign markets including Italy, Germany, Russia, Greece and Israel where it hit the bestseller charts. The TV option for the book has also been acquired by Mainstreet Pictures.
The first draft of this novel was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.
Helen was nominated as Best Newcomer in the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018. She is also a contributor to the Irish Times newspaper and Sunday Times Magazine.
Helen is now writing full-time. Her second novel, The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually, will be published in Ireland and the UK on August 20th, 2020 and as The Dazzling Truth in the USA and Canada on August 18th, 2020.