Aside from irritation at his own inability to come to a decision about his future, Matthew seems happy with the arrangement: he loves the house and acting as the couple’s private chef, and shopping for the ingredients for gourmet meals. He’s also fond of Chloe, feeling that they have a mutual empathy and appreciation of the finer things in life. So it’s a personal affront as well as a moral dilemma about loyalty to his cousin when it comes to suspect that, when she drives down to the town, it’s not to attend her yoga class.
As tensions mount with the summer heat, and as more of the past resentments between the cousins are revealed, the reader is constantly reassessing the question posed by the title: who is really the fall guy? The close third person point of view, along with the perfectly calibrated hints and red herrings, might lead us to side with Matthew, but for how long? Tagged as a psychological thriller it doesn’t seem so until the run-up to the surprising finale, but it’s certainly a page turner from the start. Thanks to Jonathan Cape for my review copy.
The father of her unborn child is named in the first sentence: seventeen-year-old Martin Toppy, the son of a famous Traveller whom she’s been teaching to read. When the sickness abates sufficiently for her to leave the house, Melody visits the “halting site” where another teenager, Mary Crothery, informs her that the Toppy family have taken to the road. Assisting Mary with her literacy, a friendship develops between the two women founded on shared loneliness and a mutual drive to protect. Like Melody, Mary is persona non grata in her community, having left a marriage arranged to unite two powerful Traveller tribes. Although not punished as harshly as she would have been a generation previously, Catholic Ireland still needs to express its disapproval of Melody’s condition. But a brick through the window is nothing compared with the violent feud that results from Mary’s transgression and leaves her fighting for her life.
All We Shall Know is a beautifully crafted and thought-provoking novel with an ending that took me by surprise. If it dwells a little too long on Melody’s decrepitude, there are compensations in the subtlety of the erotic tinge to her friendships with both Mary and Breedie, and in the disclosure of her mother’s death. Thanks to Doubleday for my review copy.