The second novel I have read featuring the stories of different characters at the same time so perhaps this is a trend?
This time the novel is centred on the day Philippe Petit walked across the tight rope walk between New York’s Twin Towers in August 1974. Similar to Edward Rutherfurd, who wrote the absorbing New York, Colum McCann is also an Irishman so his story starts with Corrigan, the Irish monk growing up in Dublin who’s calling ends up being in New York in the early 1970’s. I found it difficult to get into the book at this stage though and I’m not sure whether that’s because my head was in 100 places after having had a couple of weeks holiday over Christmas.
Once the character came to New York, I was much keener. His befriending of the hookeratti in the Bronx meant tolerating an assortment of ‘F’ word variations but interesting twists too, such as the mother and daughter combo who were the third generation in their family coming into the industry.
The story brightens even more when Corrigan’s brother eventually follows him to the US and after that, each chapter explores a different set of characters, all centred oat the time of the Twin Towers walk.
There’s Park Avenue’s Claire, a housewife who lost her only son in the Vietnam conflict and meets with other mothers with some trepidation about showing her wealth and background to ladies from such different backdrops. Her husband is the judge at the Philippe Petit case.
One of the ladies is Gloria, from the Bronx with inevitable connections to the hookers. There’s the nurse who the monk has a peculiar crush on. Will they/won’t they?
There’s the lady of the night who’s in court at the same time as Philippe Petit.
Many of the characters are weaved together in some way including the arty couple who left Manhattan to get clean of drugs and start again, except do they?
Half way through I was very much into the book and its well worth a read if you like either the 1970s, New York – or both in my case – or simply a good selection of differing characters in your novel to keep you engrossed. 7½/10
Inspiration factor: 8/10
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