Saturday 20 June 2015

Ahoy for Joy by Keith Reilly


Seventeen year old Michael Colgan is on a Boy’s Brigade camping holiday to the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe when he meets Anna, a young Dutch girl. Their meeting is brief but powerful and leaves such a profound impression, that their relationship, such as it is, continues by letter when Michael returns home to Belfast and Anna returns to Pijpersbos, in the Netherlands. However, Michael returns to the Belfast of the 1970’s, when the troubles were vicious and sectarian hatred flourished in dark corners. Anna’s life in an affluent Dutch suburb is, by comparison, the light to Michael’s darkness.

After a slow beginning, the story picks up and starts to flow quite well, although there are times when the narrative meanders a little too much and would have, perhaps, benefited from a tighter edit. However, there are some nice descriptive touches which capture time and place really well. The emotional impact of the story is dramatic without being over sensational and nicely captures both the pain of lost love and the emotional pull of separation. The first part of the story is particularly well done and the troubles in Northern Ireland are written with a compassionate eye for detail by someone who clearly knows and understands this uneasy period in Irish history. I felt that Anna’s story, in part two, lacked energy but was written with thoughtful consideration and succeeds in bringing the story to a sensitive conclusion.

Ahoy for Joy is a tender and rather sad story about first love and lost love and of the memories we cherish in our hearts and which the passage of time can never dim. I enjoyed reading it.

My thanks to the author for sharing his story with me. More details can be found on the author's website.


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