Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

One of my favorite things in the world (I know I'm not alone here) is finding a book that makes me forget I'm reading a book. Bog Child, for me, was that good. Set in Northern Ireland in the 1980's, main character Fergus finds the body of a dead child in the peat bogs near his home.

At first he and his uncle think the body is fresh, recently buried. In actuality, it lay for close to two-thousand years, preserved by the peat, until Fergus uncovered it.

Fergus is on a journey of self-discovery, wrestling with the challenges of growing up in a region split by warring political factions. He feels pressure to join the military effort instead of following his dreams. But at the base of his personal struggle is the thrill of uncovering the story of this two-thousand-year-old child, and what her story teaches him about his own life.

I appreciated the threads that author Siobhan Dowd wove together in her novel. There's the main thread of a teenage boy whose older brother is in prison for political crimes, the boy finding himself, coming of age, but there's also the thread of a young man forming a connection with a girl who lived two- thousand years before in the same land.

This isn't a ghost story, but Fergus has a powerful connection with the past and as the archeologists piece together the clues about this young girl's life and death, he's right there with them.

I was fascinated by this book on so many levels. I love learning about history, about other cultures, and getting into characters' heads. Dowd gave me all that. Fergus is an emotionally rich character. He's smart and complicated, but very human.

One thing I love about this Fill in the Gaps project is that I'm working off a (hopefully) intelligent list. Most of my chosen books are prize-winners or best-sellers, so, for the most part, when I bring a book home, I have a certain amount of faith that I'm going to love it. (The best-sellers don't always do it for me, but the prize-winners usually do.) When I brought home Bog Child, saw the cover, and read the blurb I knew I would get some meat. Something to savor and love every minute of. The literary carnivore in me was not disappointed.


Emily Cross said...

Definitely have to read this book. it's kind of disgraceful that I haven't! I need to read more irish books!! Brillinat review, thanks for sharing :)

Myrna Foster said...

I want to read this one now. Thanks for the review, Amy!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

You make me want to search for this and read. thanks for bringing it up...

Linda said...

Sounds fantastic. Thank you for sharing. I will add it to my tbr list!

Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

I have this book on my tbr list and am really glad to hear that its good.

I was hoping for a paranormal element as well which always adds to the story for me - sounds like there may be one.

I am very interested in bogs, and peat in general with its high acid content from which preserves everything... very cool.

Apparently they still find caches of ancient butter and cheese which the local stored in the peat long ago.

Mimi said...

Hi Amy, as you can see, I'm having a good look around your blog!
I've noted this book, haven't come across it here in Ireland, but it sounds good.
Have you read "the Story of Lucy Gault", William Trevor - i enjoyed it very much.