Make Yourself at Home by Ciara Geraghty
Here at The Reading Snug we are huge fans of Ciara Geraghty, so it is of no surprise that we had to read her new book Make Yourself at Home. The fabulous book cover, representing the main location of the book, Ancaire, located at a cliff edge overlooking the Irish Sea drew us in, but it was the heart-warming story that made us stay. We are giving this book a solid 9/10!
The story follows the life of the main character Marianne, a middle-aged woman who left home when she was the tender age of 15 following an unshakable family tragedy. With a failed career, a failed marriage and apparently awful hair, Marianne is forced to stop running, turn around and head back to the last place she wants to be – her family home at Ancaire. Having been forced to move back to Ancaire, a now residential spot for the ‘Get-Well-Sooners’ (a group of diverse addicts in remission whom her mother, Rita, now mentors) we quickly realise that Marianne has been through some spine tingling times as a child involving alcohol and addiction. For this reason it is of no surprise that she resents her mother, Rita, the rehabilitated drinker and party-goer who still resides in the dilapidated Ancaire.
Marianne is a tough character who believes she is well able to look after herself. However, as the story progresses and Marianne begins to soften (what with her having to pitch in to help the Get-Well-Sooners group every now and then) she begins to realise that maybe she does need a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold.
This heartbreakingly yet feel good novel really reiterates the idea that as we grow and evolve we must learn to forgive those who have wronged us. We come to realise as the story progresses that life is too short to hold grudges against those who are trying and willing to change. This insightful story also touches on the idea that we cannot choose our family, and so we must forgive and embrace them. As well as this, it pays homage to the fact that we can choose to surround ourselves with those whom we wish were our family and that home is where the heart is.
The themes Geraghty delves into throughout this novel are very relevant to contemporary Irish society. Geraghty’s insightful take and explanation on the actions we deem inappropriate within society really open up the reader’s eyes to just how judgmental and unwelcoming we can be towards those who are not the same as us. The novel and its characters are ultra-inclusive in the idea that we get an insight into the lives of an addict, a gay man who truly believes his mother won’t accept him for who he is as well as a woman who mourns the loss of her husband so much so that she is convinced he is talking to her from beyond the grave. It produces cracks in the foundation of the old Irish idea of judging those whom we deem to be outsiders of society and lends us a hand in welcoming them in with open arms upon discovery that we ALL go through traumatic life events that shape who we are and the choices we make. For this reason we want to thank Ciara Geraghty for bringing these ideas to light in a society that insists on labelling everyone and everything.
This book was an easy read and at times brought a tear to our eye. Make Yourself at Home is a must read if you haven’t already read it and we thoroughly recommend it here at The Reading Snug!
You can visit Ciara Geraghtys website here and find out more about her.
The Reading Snug x