Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Rules of the Road

Title:  Rules of the Road
Author:  Ciara Geraghty
Publication Information:  Park Row. 2020. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0778309711 / 978-0778309710

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and the Harlequin Trade Publishing 2020 Summer Reads blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Iris Armstrong is missing."

Favorite Quote:  "Memory is a strange beast, isn't it? It throws up such random things. Presents itself to us in different ways. Sepia-tinted, some of them. Black-and-white, others. Glaring Technicolor. Some are magnified. Larger than life. Insistent. And others are like the images you see when you look through the wrong end of binoculars. Distant and small. You doubt the truth of them."

***** Blog Tour *****


The rules of the road are literal and figurative. Literally, this book takes place mostly over the course of an planned road trip, from Ireland all the way to Zurich, Switzerland. There is a beat up car, a ferry, an accident, opposite side of the road driving, a motorway, and a timid, shy driver. The unlikely companions on this trip are Eugene Keogh, Iris Armstrong, and Terry Shepherd.

Eugene Keogh is a frail gentleman suffering from amnesia. Doctor's advice is for his routines be maintained as best as possible; yet, here he is.

Iris Armstrong is a strong, independent woman. She also suffers from multiple sclerosis. She is the only one or whom the trip is intended and planned. She is on her way to a private clinic in Switzerland. Her intent is to end her own life on her own terms before her disease overtakes what she believes defines the quality of her life. Disclaimer:  This book is not about the ethics, morality, or politics of assisted end of life. Iris's decision is a given in this book. Terry's objection is not a moral or ethical one; she just does not want to lose her friend. If the fact that this book accepts Iris's decision with a moral, ethical, religious or other discussion will bother you, this is not the book for you.

Terry Shepherd is Eugene Keogh's daughter and Iris Armstrong's best friend. She is also a wife and a mother to two adult daughters. Her trip is entirely unplanned, and her father is along for the ride as he is under her care. Her intent is to use the time between Ireland and Dublin to change Iris's decision. She has no idea how or even if she can. She is even less sure of her own abilities to take this trip.

Terry's story is the figurative road trip of this book. She lives her life in a small bubble of family, and mostly in the caretaker role for her father, husband, daughter, and friends. Slowly, through the book, her timidness emerges. Even more slowly and as a surprise to herself, she emerges from her comfort zone. In a book that includes serious issues - dementia, multiple sclerosis, and assisted end of life, the story is really about the woman navigating through her own outlook and approach to life. A book dealing with such serious issues ends up a sweet, feel good story of self-discovery and friendship.

For all the gradual revelation of Terry, the book comes to a rather abrupt ending. A testament to the characters and the book is that I wanted more. I wanted to see Terry truly emerge out of her shell and come into herself. There is a glimpse, but it is just that.

The cast of characters - Eugene with his Frank Sinatra story, Iris with her determination, Terry with her strength - along with all the people they meet along the road. For a book that deals with so much sadness, it leaves me more nostalgic than sad.

About the Book

In this emotional, life-affirming novel, two women embark on an extraordinary road trip and discover the transformative power of female friendship--perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Gail Honeyman.

The simple fact of the matter is that Iris loves life. Maybe she's forgotten that. Sometimes that happens, doesn't it? To the best of us? All I have to do is remind her of that one simple fact.

When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry—wife, mother and all-around worrier—is convinced something bad has happened. And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she's right: Iris is setting out on a bucket-list journey that she plans to make her last. She tells Terry there’s no changing her mind, but Terry is determined to show her that life is still worth living.

The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her—on a road trip that will take them on a life-changing adventure. Along the way, somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best. Told in an irresistible voice and bursting with heart, Rules of the Road is a powerful testament to the importance of human connection and a moving celebration of life in all its unexpected twists and turns.

About the Author

Ciara Geraghty was born and raised in Dublin. She started writing in her thirties and hasn’t looked back. She has three children and one husband and they have recently adopted a dog who, alongside their youngest daughter, is in charge of pretty much everything.

Q&A with Ciara Geraghty

What message do you hope readers take away from Rules of the Road?
First and foremost, I hope they enjoy it. My mantra for writing is ‘A good tale, well told’. I don’t write fables or books with morals to be endured and lessons to be learned. I write about people and the messiness of their lives. Because, as everyone knows, life is messy. And complex. And complicated. I want my readers to read one of my books and maybe come away feeling less alone. That is the comfort I take from books as a reader, when I come across characters I can relate to.

What's the story behind the story of how you came to write it?
Female friendship and solidarity have always been very important to me. I wanted to examine the importance of female friendship, the impact it has, the difference it makes. When I was writing the book, we had two referendums in Ireland - marriage equality and access to abortion and both were passed with resounding majorities. While my book does not deal with these specific issues, it is a book about personal autonomy, bodily autonomy, a woman’s right to choose. My subject matter suddenly felt very relevant and positive and hopeful. While the book has a dark heart - Iris, one of my main characters, is determined to end her life in a clinic in Switzerland - I always meant for the book to be ultimately uplifting and life-affirming; a love song sung by women.

During the writing of the book, my father was dying of dementia. I found the writing of Eugene - Terry’s father in ‘Rules’ who has dementia - a very cathartic experience. This is one of the great things about writing; it helps me make sense of the world and the way I feel about it.

Do you have any specific writing rituals (outfit, snacks, pen,music, etc)?
Well, I’d love to get all ‘writery’ and say that I repair to a tall tower where I wander around in a caftan and smoke cigarettes from long, slender cigarette holders and wait for the MUSE to arrive…..Now, wouldn’t that be grand! But, no. Instead, I write at home, in the attic, at a desk, with a laptop. How pedestrian is that? I will say that, for me, the most important part of the process is getting my butt into the seat at the desk. The chair is an all-singing, all-dancing display of ergonomic engineering (it’s got wheels!) and this is important because one thing is for sure; I’m going to be sitting on it for a LONG time. Caftan and cigarette holders are optional (and rarely employed) but the rule I absolutely insist on is never, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, wait for the MUSE to arrive. I just steel myself and start writing. Even when I don’t want to. Especially when I don’t want to. Otherwise I’ll convince myself that the words have all dried up and the cupboard is bare.

Which character do you most relate to in this novel and why?
There are certain traits that I have in common with aspects of both Terry and Iris. Like Iris, I am a year-round sea swimmer. Like Terry, I am a mother who is coming to terms with the fact that some of her children are - technically - grown-ups. I have lived with both of these characters for the past four years and love them both equally, for different reasons. I’d say I relate more to Terry because Iris, for the most part, has it all figured out. She is a woman who knows what she wants and then goes right ahead and gets it. Terry is less certain, she is still feeling her way through her life. She tries so hard to be all things to all people, to the detriment of her own sense of self. As a woman writer who is also a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend, I relate to this aspect of Terry. I imagine many women these days do. It is the great burden of being a woman, as well as being one of our great strengths.

What is your bucket-list trip?
In the current climate, even thinking about a bucket-list trip feels a bit revolutionary. Or like a plot in a science-fiction novel. However, I can reveal that tomorrow, I’m off to Kerry (in the south west of Ireland) for a week. For anyone who has never been to Kerry, I advise you to put it on your bucket-list immediately. Because of the mountains - the highest in Ireland - and the winds that rush in from the Atlantic ocean, rain is a frequent visitor there. BUT - because of the rain, the vegetation is vivid and lush and almost tropical, with the influence of the Gulf Stream. The place is falling down with ancient castles, monasteries, fairy forts and islands (including Skellig Michael for the Star Wars fans amongst you). The Atlantic may be ‘fresh’ (this is Irish for ‘biting cold’) but the waters are crystal clear and the sand is fine and white and an excellent exfoliator of skin. Afterwards, in the pub where you’re eating a bowl of seafood chowder and struggling to eavesdrop on the locals (the accent is as thick as an Aran jumper), you’ll suddenly realise you’re tingling all over. This could be your blood, doing its best to resume normal circulation after the icy immersion in the sea. Or it could be something else. Something a little more other-worldly. The magic of Kerry, rushing through your body, seeping into your bones, engaging every sense you’ve ever had. And a few you didn’t even know you had. Can you tell I’m looking forward to getting away?

Social Links

Author Website: http://www.ciarageraghty.com/
Twitter: @ciarageraghty
Facebook: @CiaraGeraghtyBooks
Instagram: @ciara.geraghty.books
Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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