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Mr. Lynch's Holiday    by Catherine O'Flynn order for
Mr. Lynch's Holiday
by Catherine O'Flynn
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2013 (2013)
* * *   Reviewed by Anita Lock

Dermot Lynch decides it's time to take a trip abroad, the first one since he emigrated from Ireland to England. He has no special vacation plans in mind. The sole purpose of his trip is to see what his son Eamonn is up to (or at least this is what he tells one of Eamonn's neighbors when asked what he plans to do on his holiday). There's a problem, though. When Eamonn learned of the trip, it was too late to tell his father that he should call off his travel plans since this was not a particularly good time for him to drop by. To further complicate the situation, Dermot intends to stick around for two whole weeks.

Once Dermot enters Eamonn's apartment, he finds that it is not only in complete disarray and in desperate need of repair, but also that Eamonn is acting very strangely. Laura, Eamonn's wife, had left him a few days before Dermot's arrival, which left Eamonn in quite a lurch as well as depressed. It doesn't take rocket science for Dermot to put two and two together. Nonetheless, Eamonn is determined not to divulge this information about Laura to his father. Keeping secrets, though, is not limited to Eamonn since Dermot has a few of his own up his sleeve that he's not ready to divulge either.

The lack of depth in their relationship slowly but surely surfaces through their hilariously awkward encounters not to mention those with some of Eamonn's annoying neighbors. However, those encounters are the catalyst to stir up past memories for both men a mix of happy but mostly painful ones, which definitely reflect unresolved conflicts. Little by little, Dermot and Eamonn begin to peel back their protective layers, exposing their well-hidden secrets. All of this exposure comes at a good time, too, because Dermot's holiday draws to a close. But that's not how this tender yet witty book ends. A few more cleverly designed twists not only bring this story to a close, but also create a different bond between father and son.

Mr. Lynch's Holiday is filled both with comedy and the sadness of the superficial connection between father and son. O'Flynn's style of writing is both subtle and blatantly obvious in her descriptions of this bond or lack thereof between Dermot and Eamonn, intermixed with wry humor. I love how she builds the plot by alternating the present with past memories; as I read, I could clearly think of actors/actresses who could play each role. Mr. Lynch's Holiday is a great read, and definitely one that I hope movie producers grab hold of, because in my mind I can see it on the big screen some day.

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