This novel is both a tour de force, and one of the more difficult books to read. The novel begins with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, Dr. Valdimir Dragan, in the quiet Irish village of Cloonoila. The arrival of the oddly charismatic stranger creates gossip and excitement in the village, especially among the women, who seem to believe him to be a romantic figure. I really love the way O’Brien tells the story, from a different point of view than you would suspect, and how she draws you into the life of the little Irish village.
As the novel progresses, some questions and suspicions begin to make their way around the village regarding Dr. Dragan. For one thing, among his services that he offers is “sex therapist”, which due to the reactions of the villagers, he decides not to offer. His practice is an amalgamation of “new age” therapies, which in itself brings some suspicion.
I’m not going to tell you who Dragan actually is however, since I want you to read this wonderfully written book. O’Brien simply blew me away with this novel. Well done, however be warned, as it is not for the faint of heart.