Brilliant at times but just a little too episodic, which I found grated on my enjoyment of the narrative as a whole. The blurb describes the book as part essay, part auto-fiction but I think, in truth, diary is the best description of the book.
In this respect, naturally the book would be bound to feel episodic and while I really enjoyed the detective work on the trail of Eibhlín Dubh, some of the other events and chapters I found just didn’t really fit. It’s all wonderfully written but feels mismatched and overly digressive. Moments after a key insight into Eibhlín’s life, we detour into the personal life or some momentary observations of the author. I’m sure Ní Ghríofa was attempting to stretch out a hand across the centuries to clasp Eibhlín Dubh in bonds of kinship, but the intention to forge a link between the two writers just fell flat for me sometimes.
You can really tell Ní Ghríofa is a poet though. The prose is beautifully crafted and there are great moments of striking imagery. I just found it didn’t knit together well enough to sustain 250 pages.