The Slowworm’s Song

Europa. Oct. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781609458003. pap. $18. F
The winner of Costa and IMPAC Dublin Literary honors, Miller (Now We Shall Be Entirely Free) returns with a thoughtful narrative shaped by events in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It opens with a letter arriving in the mail for Stephen Rose, summoning him to appear before a commission of inquiry investigating events that took place 30 years ago. Stephen has long been haunted by memories of his time as a British soldier in Belfast. His decision to enlist at age 19 was an affront to his pacifist father and to the Quaker faith in which he was raised. Six months of basic training and a short posting in Germany did little to prepare him for the unpredictable violence of Ireland. The long-ago incident led to Stephen’s early discharge from the army, followed by a downward spiral in which he tramped through Europe, did some prison time for drug dealing, and then spent many years in an alcoholic haze. Now sober, he finds his memories of the event in question coming into sharper focus as he puts them into a confessional letter to his daughter.
VERDICT This novel about a life derailed early and the long shadow cast by the Troubles gathers strength as it unfolds; recommended for readers of serious fiction.
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