Thomas Moran, |
Water, Carry Me: A Love Story
(Penguin Putnam, 2000)
Billed as a "love story," Thomas Moran's Water, Carry Me encompasses more than just romance in this novel set against the backdrop of a modern, divided Ireland.
The remarkable narrator, Una Moss, is a 22-year-old orphan training to be a doctor at University College in Cork. While the Troubles rage in the North, Una remains seemingly insulated from the violence, living in the "Sunny South" on a farm near Cobh with her grandfather Rawney.
But Una soon begins to learn the truth behind her family's many secrets, and just as she realizes the Troubles are not far from her doorstep, so too does love come knocking in the form of Aidan Ferrel, a charming but mysterious draftsman from the North. Ignoring the signs of danger, she throws herself headlong into a relationship with him.
Una's voice is one of the most singular and engaging in recent fiction, so genuine and honest that it seems to leap off the page and resound in your ears. As cynical as she is naive, her sarcastic wit and confident air hide her deep insecurities and the conviction that she is unattractive and unlovable. But Aidan shatters this conviction by offering her a love that can only be matched by her ardor for him. Her chief flaw -- if it can be called a flaw -- is that she loves Aidan unconditionally, a fervor that blinds her to any concerns about his character and his past. This shortcoming is brought sharply into focus as the book builds toward its inevitable, heartbreaking climax.
Though not free of the "Oirish" cliches American writers can't seem to avoid, Moran's compelling, deftly written prose drives the narrative along as it lets the reader into Una's world. It is a cogent account of a society affected by the politics of sectarian violence and how such a society can punish even the innocents.