I was contacted by the author of this captivating novel asking if I wanted to read and write a review on it. I cannot turn down a free book, its just not in me! Before I accepted I read the description quickly on Goodreads and my first thoughts were that it seemed a really nice story, a bit different from my latest reads of Not A Word About Love and Patalosh: The Time Travellers. Now that I have read Ahoy For Joy by Keith Reilly, nice is a word not good enough to describe this book. Extraordinary is much more appropriate.
Ahoy For Joy is ‘An inspiring tale of love, loss and forgiveness’. Readers are given this quote on the cover, and sums up the book perfectly. The cover is an illustration from an oil painting by the author, Keith Reilly. I think it’s a beautiful touch and well fitting with the novel.
The story focuses on Michael Colgan, a quiet teenager with little words from Belfast who meets Anna, a Dutch schoolgirl on holiday with the Boys Brigade in Morecambe in 1978. Their chance encounter starts a romantic pen-pal relationship full of poems and tales of life for Anna in Holland. Michael doesn’t let on to Anna about the ‘troubles’ that are happening all around him in Northern Ireland at that time.
What made me like the story is how the author’s style of writing is so beautiful and very descriptive of the surroundings, in particular Belfast. I love how the Titanic gets a mention as well, for being built there. Little details like this makes it seem so real and believable.
The story was a bit slow for me to start with, and I must admit that the first few pages took a lot of work for me to get into the story, but I am so pleased I kept on persevering. I understand now that it was building to something that really shocked me halfway through. Days later after finishing it I still find my thoughts go back to those few pages. I did wander how the author would follow through with the story after the shock. It seemed to change direction, but for the better.
I was eager to find out why the book was called Ahoy For Joy and you will find that all out near the end of the book, I don’t want to spoil that for you, it’s very special.
If you are looking for an emotional, beautiful love story which is very well written and descriptive, this debut novel is the one for you. I have shed a few tears, laughed and smiled along the way.
It is a book that will stay with me for a while, and one I would love to read again one day.
I have given Ahoy For Joy by Keith Reilly 4 out of 5 stars.
Rachel xx* I was given this book to review free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.