It is always such an honour to have an Irish author feature on Joyful Antidotes. That may be a bit biased but I’m very proud of my country and our reputation as great storytellers. Galway’s Evie Gaughan is one of these storytellers and I’m excited to introduce this wonderful book to you.
The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan is a historical romance spilt into two eras: young farm girl Anna in 1910 and American Sarah Harper, living in the present day. Both women are connected when Sarah finds Anna’s diary on a trip to Ireland and it opens up a whole box of superstition and folklore. Soon, Sarah is walking in the footsteps of Anna as she helps American scholar, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English. However, the deep secrets uncovered in Anna’s diary go far beyond the fairy tale world.
As you may have gathered from the introduction, I love anything connected with Ireland. It was good to see the use of the Irish language in The Story Collector; the use of the word “piseog” reminded me of my late Nan. There was a good feel for the Ireland of the past and I appreciate that Gaughan’s work is keeping the culture alive. Harold’s main purpose in Ireland is to gather stories of fairies to include in his upcoming book. Some of the story’s Harold is told are the same stories that Sarah also hears. This was a good way of showcasing how the art of storytelling is preserved in Ireland and continues to this day.
Don’t be alarmed if you are not into folklore. Fairy tales are simply a way to connect all elements of the book. If you dig a bit deeper, you will actually find that The Story Collector is about dealing with grief and becoming your own person, perfectly brought to life through the characters of Anna and Sarah.
I feel like I need to be honest at this point. For the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure if I would like this book at all. I felt like I had read something similar before. It also was a little bit cheesy and played too much on Irish stereotypes for me. However, it soon came into its own and I really began to enjoy it. In the end, I would recommend The Story Collector to anybody looking for good historical fiction. Bonus points if you are a Maeve Binchy fan as I got similar vibes from this book.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.