A Mad and Wonderful Thing

I really enjoyed reading this recently released debut novel from Mark Mulholland, A Mad and Wonderful Thing. It focuses on the life of Johnny Donnelly, a young Irish man who loves a beer, loves his country, loves his sweetheart Cora. He is deeply patriotic and good with a gun, which leads him to live a secret career as an IRA sniper responsible for taking out British soldiers.

Johnny’s an amazing narrator, he’s charming and funny, realistic, patriotic and wistful. I like how complex he is. He falls in love with a beautiful girl named Cora and their relationship is pretty perfect, like a Nicholas Sparks kind of picnicking, poetry reading, true love relationship. But tragedy strikes and Johnny spirals around, losing himself in the interesting cities of Ireland, his sniper career, and other women. Just when Johnny is trying to piece everything back together, a surprising, disastrous¬† twist has Johnny facing who he has become and his need to escape from his crimes.

Ultimately this is a redemption story and a story about life – just how mad and difficult and surprising, heartbreaking, impossible and wonderful it can be. The language is descriptive and flows beautifully making it a really lovely, summer read that has surprising twists and high drama.

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