Fergus Boggs is being cared for in a nursing home after an illness has robbed him of his memory. When his daughter Sabina comes into possession of her father's belongings, she finds boxes of marbles, which, at first glance seem just like ordinary glass toys, however, her father's copious notes reveal that there something rather special about this collection. What then follows is a twenty-four hour period in which Sabrina seeks to discover more about her father, and the importance, in his life, of his marble collection. What she discovers will alter her feelings for her father forever.
This is a very introspective story; told from two viewpoints, that of Sabrina in the present and of Fergus's story growing up in rural Ireland with his mother and brothers. In many ways its gentle story about lives lost and won, of people and places with emotional blood ties which go beyond the ordinary, and of those parts of ourselves that we manage to keep secret, even from those we love.
I found this very much to be a book of two halves, with Fergus's story in the past working slightly better than the modern day search by Sabrina to find out more about Fergus's past life. Fergus's lively upbringing and the interaction between the brothers worked slightly better for me and seemed realistically rooted in the past, whilst Sabrina's search for her father's identity seemed rather quiet in comparison but there were some genuine heart-warming scenes between Fergus and Sabrina which pull on the heartstrings.
There's some nice detail about marbles, I never knew that there was so much to the history of them, and I enjoyed trying to imagine what the marbles looked like. So, overall, this is a quiet read, quite charming in places and with a warmth and tenderness which is so much a trade mark of this talented writer.