Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Dazzling Truth by Helen Cullen.
Poised to celebrate Christmas Eve on a beautifully scenic island off the coast of Ireland, the Moone family’s holiday is instead marred by tragedy. So begins Helen Cullen’s stirring family saga, THE DAZZLING TRUTH (Graydon House; August 18, 2020; $17.99 USD). Maeve and Murtagh Moone’s love story began in 1978, at Trinity College. As an aspiring actress and potter respectively, the two creative spirits were drawn to each other in an intense and lasting way, able to withstand almost anything, even Maeve’s bouts of crippling depression and anxiety. For a short time, anyway.
Marriage and children are the next chapters in the Moone family story, but Maeve struggles to reconcile her old life with that of the wife and mother she is supposed to be. Until one heartbreaking Christmas Eve in 2005 changes everything. Now each member of the Moone family must learn to confront the past on their own, until one dazzling truth brings them back together towards a future that none of them could have predicted. Except perhaps Maeve herself.
The Dazzling Truth is a family saga that spans over 37 years that explores love, grief, hope and healing. It tells us the story of Maeve, an American aspiring actress now living in Ireland and her husband, Murtagh, and their four children. It explores Motherhood through depression and its impact on the family when it is not seen or talked about.
Helen Cullen writes with compassion and sensitivity as she explores the uncomfortable personal truths not seen or spoken within the family. She takes her time developing the story and characters and at times I did struggle to stay focus. The themes here are powerful and the writing is beautiful. The plot and the characters are well developed and I loved the heartwarming dynamics between the family.
Did I think the truth, in the end, was so dazzling and how it all came together well I am still thinking about it and I think I will be questioning it for a while! There is some power in that! I recommend it!
HELEN CULLEN wrote her debut novel, The Lost Letters of William Woolf, while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing program. She holds an MA in Theatre Studies from University College Dublin and is currently studying further at Brunel. Prior to writing full-time, Helen worked in journalism, broadcasting and most recently as a creative events and engagement specialist. Helen is Irish and currently lives in London.
I don’t normally post the Q & As from the publisher because we host our own in our Goodreads group Behind the Pages but today I would like to add a couple I received from with this blog tour.
1. How did you get the idea for THE DAZZLING TRUTH?
The Dazzling Truth was initially inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi – the practise of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The breakage, and the repair, remains visible to show the history of an object rather than something to be disguised, and so the pots become even more beautiful than before they were broken.
As any family spans decades, both hairline fractures and critical breaks, can damage its foundations. Some tragedies seem insurmountable; we can’t go on, and yet we do. Some cracks feel irreparable, but then often reveal themselves to be the gap we squeeze through so that we can find a way to keep moving.
The Moone family of the new book are no exception and as their narrative revealed itself to me, I became more and more convinced of how powerful it can be to confront the past, to stop burying inconvenient, uncomfortable or hurtful truths. Telling the story of Maeve, an actor from Brooklyn who arrived in Dublin in the 70s, her husband, Murtagh, and their four children, Nollaig, Mossy, Dillon and Sive, I was inspired by the power of the truth – how it can give your legs the power to keep walking, your heart to keep beating. And the setting for their story is very special to me – their lives on a fictional island on the west coast of Ireland was inspired by my own time spent on the Aran Islands in Ireland and in particular on Inis Oírr.
2. Where did the title come from?
It comes from an Emily Dickison poem, Tell all the truth but tell it slant. The theme of personal truth is a very important one in the novel – and in particular, how personal truths may not always align with what can be considered universally accepted truths. Sometimes it is only with acceptance of that that we can find peace. And sometimes that truth or awareness needs to creep up on us slowly as it would be too blinding if confronted too quickly or head on. My working title as I was writing the book had been Kintsugi as mentioned above but I wanted the title to reference the truth that is at the heart of the novel. I had spent some time thinking of it when one day the Emily Dickinson line just came me as I was sitting on the London tube. In the UK and Irish edition, the title is the full quote, The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually, but in America we opted for The Dazzling Truth.
Thank you to Lia from Harlequin Trade Publishing for the invite to the blog tour and for my copy to read and review