I am a huge fan of Graham Norton, so I was super excited to receive an ARC of his debut novel. I had unrealistically high hopes (just because you’re an amusing presenter doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at writing), but I was honestly not disappointed at all. Holding is expertly written, with a flowing style and a really good story.
Usually I try to write my own synopsis of the book I’m reviewing, but I actually really like the blurb of this one. So here’s the synopsis, from Goodreads: The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.
So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
The story is beautifully written. Graham Norton paints a vivid picture of life in a remote Irish village, and the characters feel like real people. The nosy shopkeeper, the fat policeman, the smug city detective, even the alcoholic housewife. They’re all relatable (with the possible exception of the Ross sisters) and feel really genuine, with real-life problems and personalities.
Contrary to what other reviewers have said, I didn’t read it in Graham’s voice. I didn’t think the narrative sounded like him, but I personally think that’s a good thing. It was easy to separate the book from the celebrity and, although it means there was no distinctive ‘Graham Norton style’ about it, there was nothing to indicate that this is the debut novel of a celeb. People shouldn’t read Holding because it’s by Graham Norton – they should read it because it’s a damn good book. Holding is touching and a little tragic in places, but has an overall sense of charm about it. A truly enjoyable read.
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.