It’s interesting reading this book along with another collection of short stories over lunch (Exile and the Kingdom) because in a way they are quite similar using the same settings – Dublin/Algeria – bedding down different characters in a location that rolls out like a patchwork of different suburbs which reflects back on the characters.
A Painful Case
A solitary man makes a friendship with a woman at a conference and starts seeing her in both the open and in secret walking through the park and talking with each other but one day they have a disagreement and breaks off the friendship. A couple of years passes and then he reads about the death of the lady in the paper – an account of her falling in front of a train and her daughter explaining that she had become a drinker. The man realizes that she must have been terribly lonely and then faces up to his own solitude.
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
Some canvassers for a politician meet up to report on their progress and moan about the lack of payment from the party organisation. More men come in and swell the ranks boasting about how many votes they could get and then some drinks finally turn up having been sent to appease the men and it works with them using the heat of the fire to pop the corks
A cracking little story about a mother wanting what is right for her daughter but pushing it too far and losing it all. After her daughter has been signed up to sing for four concerts the mother becomes worried when one is cancelled and starts to get concerned that her daughter will not be paid so she demands payment otherwise she will not sing. She gets half the money just before the curtain goes up but is fobbed off in the interval and so is replaced after carrying out the threat not to perform and as a result loses not just the other half but her reputation as a reliable singer
This is the penultimate story in Dubliners and is so far the longest covering firstly the drunken escapades of Mr. Kernan, then the decision by his friends to go and repent at a religious retreat and then finally the retreat itself where Kernan starts the process of settling his accounts with God. Includes some religious banter about the Pope and Protestants and Catholics that is mild mannered and an insight into the willingness of people to mix if it is in the right circumstances
The final chapter comes tomorrow…