Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Summer Reads Blog Tour for Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty.This is the third book in this tour that I have read and loved. Please scroll down to check out my thoughts, as well as reading the Q & A with the author. I have just added Kerry, Ireland to my bucket list.
Expected Publication: August 4, 2020 (first published May 2nd 2019)
Genre: Fiction / Friendship
ABOUT THE BOOK: In this emotional, life-affirming novel, two women embark on an extraordinary road trip and discover the transformative power of female friendship–perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Gail Honeyman.
The simple fact of the matter is that Iris loves life. Maybe she’s forgotten that. Sometimes that happens, doesn’t it? To the best of us? All I have to do is remind her of that one simple fact.
When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry—wife, mother and all-around worrier—is convinced something bad has happened. And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a bucket-list journey that she plans to make her last. She tells Terry there’s no changing her mind, but Terry is determined to show her that life is still worth living.
The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her—on a road trip that will take them on a life-changing adventure. Along the way, somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best. Told in an irresistible voice and bursting with heart, Rules of the Road is a powerful testament to the importance of human connection and a moving celebration of life in all its unexpected twists and turns.
5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was not an easy book to read. It was heartbreaking and touching at the same time. The writing was beautiful. It was descriptive and lyrical and drew me right in. This is a story of friendship, a friendship that only comes around once in awhile.
Terry is married to Brendan, and has two grown daughters. She is at a crossroads, no longer a stay at home mom, and feeling complacent in her relationship. Her father has dementia and is living in a home, but it is being fumigated, so she picks him up to stay for a few days. Her best friend Iris, has progressive MS and her condition is quickly deteriorating. When she tries to get ahold of Iris at her yoga retreat, she finds out she is not there and was never registered. Heading over to her cottage to check on her, she finds a note that will lead her, her father and Iris on a road trip where only two will come back.
The road trip is quite eventful. Iris, Terry and her dad get themselves into some rather humorous situations, do a lot of self-reflection and get to know each other better than they ever thought they would. This is a story of self-discover, friendship, family and acceptance. There are some tough subjects in this story, ethical suicide, dementia, new beginnings after losing your job, and more. This was a poignant story that I couldn’t put down once I started. I wanted to find out what was going to happen not only to Iris, but to Terry and her family. I learned a bit about Progressive MS and some of the symptoms. I also saw a bit of the impact of dementia on family members, especially those that have taken on the role of carer. This was an emotional story with a very human side and definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a human story. This is not all doom and gloom, I enjoyed the happy times they shared on this road trip and reminded me once again how important it is to look for the positives and happiness in life while you can. This is one of those stories with characters that will stay with me for awhile. Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the ebook to read and review upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author: Ciara Geraghty was born and raised in Dublin. She started writing in her thirties and hasn’t looked back. She has three children and one husband and they have recently adopted a dog who, alongside their youngest daughter, is in charge of pretty much everything.
Q & A with Ciara Geraghty
Q: What message do you hope readers take away from Rules of the Road?
First and foremost, I hope they enjoy it. My mantra for writing is ‘A good tale, well told’. I don’t write fables or books with morals to be endured and lessons to be learned. I write about people and the messiness of their lives. Because, as everyone knows, life is messy. And complex. And complicated. I want my readers to read one of my books and maybe come away feeling less alone. That is the comfort I take from books as a reader, when I come across characters I can relate to.
Q: What’s the story behind the story of how you came to write it?
Female friendship and solidarity have always been very important to me. I wanted to examine the importance of female friendship, the impact it has, the difference it makes. When I was writing the book, we had two referendums in Ireland – marriage equality and access to abortion and both were passed with resounding majorities. While my book does not deal with these specific issues, it is a book about personal autonomy, bodily autonomy, a woman’s right to choose. My subject matter suddenly felt very relevant and positive and hopeful. While the book has a dark heart – Iris, one of my main characters, is determined to end her life in a clinic in Switzerland – I always meant for the book to be ultimately uplifting and life-affirming; a love song sung by women.
During the writing of the book, my father was dying of dementia. I found the writing of Eugene – Terry’s father in ‘Rules’ who has dementia – a very cathartic experience. This is one of the great things about writing; it helps me make sense of the world and the way I feel about it.
Q: Which character do you most relate to in this novel and why?
There are certain traits that I have in common with aspects of both Terry and Iris. Like Iris, I am a year-round sea swimmer. Like Terry, I am a mother who is coming to terms with the fact that some of her children are – technically – grown-ups. I have lived with both of these characters for the past four years and love them both equally, for different reasons. I’d say I relate more to Terry because Iris, for the most part, has it all figured out. She is a woman who knows what she wants and then goes right ahead and gets it. Terry is less certain, she is still feeling her way through her life. She tries so hard to be all things to all people, to the detriment of her own sense of self. As a woman writer who is also a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend, I relate to this aspect of Terry. I imagine many women these days do. It is the great burden of being a woman, as well as being one of our great strengths.
Q: What is your bucket-list trip?
In the current climate, even thinking about a bucket-list trip feels a bit revolutionary. Or like a plot in a science-fiction novel. However, I can reveal that tomorrow, I’m off to Kerry (in the south west of Ireland) for a week. For anyone who has never been to Kerry, I advise you to put it on your bucket-list immediately. Because of the mountains – the highest in Ireland – and the winds that rush in from the Atlantic ocean, rain is a frequent visitor there. BUT – because of the rain, the vegetation is vivid and lush and almost tropical, with the influence of the Gulf Stream. The place is falling down with ancient castles, monasteries, fairy forts and islands (including Skellig Michael for the Star Wars fans amongst you). The Atlantic may be ‘fresh’ (this is Irish for ‘biting cold’) but the waters are crystal clear and the sand is fine and white and an excellent exfoliator of skin. Afterwards, in the pub where you’re eating a bowl of seafood chowder and struggling to eavesdrop on the locals (the accent is as thick as an Aran jumper), you’ll suddenly realise you’re tingling all over. This could be your blood, doing its best to resume normal circulation after the icy immersion in the sea. Or it could be something else. Something a little more other-worldly. The magic of Kerry, rushing through your body, seeping into your bones, engaging every sense you’ve ever had. And a few you didn’t even know you had. Can you tell I’m looking forward to getting away?