Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The Last Will of Moira Leahy, by Therese Walsh
A quick, yet necessary, preamble:
Before I begin to relay the contents of this novel, look at that cover. Magical. Haunting. Amazing. I ordered this book online and when it arrived at my door, I tore open the packaging, ravenous, and then stared at the cover for who knows how long before I could peel my eyes away to see what lay beneath. And inside is just as beautiful as outside (I'm still not talking about the story yet). Click HERE to read my post about the importance of font in the overall experience of reading. Elina Nudelman, the interior designer of this book, gave some wonderful insight in the comments section.
Never in my life have I read a book so emotionally moving. The Last Will of Moira Leahy left me breathless. Speechless. And then crying in my shower later. I am not ashamed to admit that; it's a huge compliment to the author, Therese Walsh. Grazie.
The story is about identical twin sisters Maeve and Moira Leahy. Through the first two-thirds of the book (roughly), each chapter is divided into two parts. The first follows 25 year-old Maeve in her present-day situation. The second (appropriately labeled Out of Time for more than one reason) follows childhood Moira through different stages that ultimately connect with what Maeve is currently experiencing, while at the same time giving the reader hints about why they are no longer in each other's lives, and how it will be resolved.
The final leg focuses solely on Maeve and how she puts all these seemingly unrelated clues together (songs that play in her head, notes nailed to her door, cryptic invitations to specific places in Rome), and glues them with a singular object, the keris, which ironically, is a blade. She begins her journey in a New York auction house, then travels to Rome, and finally, back home again to Maine. Each setting has a uniqueness that adds to the events that take place there, but especially riveting for me was her experiences in Rome (no surprise there, I'm Italian).
That is also where we meet Maeve's lost/found love, Noel. He is a minor character, sort of, but I had an instant connection to him. In fact, Walsh's portrayal of all the different characters, no matter how big or small their role, is one of the main things that sets this novel apart. All are given realism, more than one facet. That alone would keep me reading, but the story itself has a marvelous complexity that I cannot even begin to describe without butchering it. So I won't.
I'd rather you read it yourself and experience it in your own way.
For me, reading this book was likened to having wings and learning to fly. Scary in some ways (looking deep inside and facing your fears, your true self), but also exhilarating (discovering that beneath the ugly past there is hope, there is beauty, there is music, there is love).
All I can say is thank you, Therese, for writing this story. Thank you for the avventura.
For more about this book and this author:
Therese Walsh's website