I have had two of Kate Kerrigan’s books, The Dress and Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, looking at me from my TBR for ever so I am delighted that I managed to read It Was Only Ever You in time for today’s post to celebrate the paperback publication.
As well as my review, I have a smashing extract from It Was Only Ever You and a chance for UK and Ireland readers to win one of two paperback copies of this lovely book at the bottom of this blog post.
It Was Only Ever You is published by Head of Zeus and is available for purchase here.
It Was Only Ever You
Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.
Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.
But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?
An Extract from It Was Only Ever You
Dermot drove them down a quiet street in what seemed to be a particularly seedy area. As he opened the car door for her, he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind slumming it tonight, my darling. There is no need to worry. I’ve kept the owner out of jail so many times, he owes me. We’ll be looked after.’
He handed the keys of his Corvette to a huge, rough- looking man who nodded deferentially. Ava felt a small thrill as she realized that her sweetheart was able to command the same respect from these gangsters as her own father.
Inside the door they walked up a narrow staircase into the nightclub. It was a small, dark, seedy room, already filled with cigarette smoke and the chatter of Irish drinkers. This was a very different part of Irish New York to the dance halls: people didn’t come here to dance, they came here to drink and to gamble and, very probably, fight. The stage was backed with silver and green tinsel and a paper shamrock banner. There were heavy green drapes on every window, the carpet was green and even the small tables at the front of the stage were covered in green baize. It was like being in a green womb. Dermot and Ava were shown to a table at the front of the stage and a rather shabby-looking waiter brought them a bottle of champagne.
‘Courtesy of the management,’ the waiter said and Dermot nodded his approval. Everything was going to plan. The waiter poured the champagne; he wondered if perhaps now was the moment. No. He would hold off. Wait for the romantic surprise he had planned.
‘This is nice,’ Ava said. In truth it was thrilling to be here. She looked up hopefully at the small dance floor in front of the stage.
‘I thought you’d like to come somewhere a bit different,’ Dermot said. Then he leaned across and whispered, ‘I know how interested you are in my contacts in the criminal fraternity, so I thought you’d like to see what a proper joint looked like. I hope the food is decent.’
Ava smiled and said, ‘I doubt it – but it is certainly unusual.’ She sipped her champagne and looked around, fascinated.
‘How was your week?’ Dermot asked.
As he was looking across the table at her Ava thought that perhaps she could talk to him about her doubts. Confide in him that she was worried that things were moving too fast. His eyes looked so concerned, so enquiring, so kind – she felt she could tell Dermot anything. As she was thinking this through, the lights dimmed and a man who was as round as he was tall, wearing a cheap tuxedo, came out on the stage and announced, ‘Ladies and gentleman – we have a special guest in for you this evening to get the entertainment started. All the way from the county of Mayo, would you please put your hands together for Mr Paa-trick Murphy!’
This is it, thought Dermot. The moment had come. He watched Ava, waiting for her reaction as he slipped his hand into his pocket to reach for the ring.
There was polite applause as the young man came out on stage. Ava immediately recognized him as the boy from the wedding.
She felt her stomach lurch as he began to sing ‘The Rose of Tralee’. Ava knew all the Irish ballads. This particular one meant nothing to her, but the way he sang it… his voice… his face… He drew something out of her she had not known was there. He sang with such passion that it was as if he was reaching inside her and making every part of her sing alongside him. With every word he sang, and every breath he took, Ava felt herself being transported to another place. She did not know this person and yet through his singing she felt as if she knew him absolutely.
Dermot loosened his grip on the small box. He had arranged with Joe for this particular singer to be here tonight. He knew how Ava loved Irish ballads and she had been so impressed with him at the wedding.
‘It’s the singer from the first day we met,’ he said, leaning across. The box was out of his pocket, ready to press into her palm.
‘Shhhh,’ she said. She closed her eyes, ecstatic. Dermot thought she had never looked more beautiful than in that moment. He got a glimpse of how womanly she was. A promise of what the future might bring. He felt so emotional that he had to gather himself. He put the ring back in his pocket. Now wasn’t the time.
As soon as the song ended, Dermot reached for the ring again but just then their host appeared at the table.
My Review of It Was Only Ever You
Patrick Murphy dreams of being a famous singer, but three different women, Rose, Ava and Sheila, will impact on his life in ways he couldn’t imagine.
I am so pleased that It Was Only Ever You has fulfilled all my expectations and allieviated my disappointment at not having had time to read Kate Kerrigan’s other novels yet. Everything positive I have ever heard about the way she writes is true.
It Was Only Ever You is a delight of a read. It is a pitch perfect romantic novel where all the characters are as real to me as I am myself. Usually there is a main character I don’t warm to but Kate Kerrigan manages to make me empathise with all of them in It Was Only Ever You so that I found my loyalties and emotions pulled every which way as the story progressed. I felt the women in particular were so well defined and realistic, although it was actually Dermot who moved me to tears at one point. Kate Kerrigan certainly knows how to create emotion.
I loved the plot and being taken back to New York so evocatively at a time when the second world war had ended and youth was beginning to find its way musically. I found Kate Kerrigan’s style such an effortless read and felt this was a book that would be a fabulous comfort read on a cold winter’s afternoon or on a beach in the sunshine. I also thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Irishness’ of so much of the story, with its religion, its love of ballads and the matriarchal hierarchy portrayed so beautifully.
Although the plot made me feel anxious at times because I wasn’t certain that it would work out as I wanted and Kate Kerrigan kept me guessing, I thought It Was Only Ever You is a smashing book that is eloquent, moving and nostalgic and I highly recommend it.
About Kate Kerrigan
Kate worked for many years as a magazine journalist and editor before her first book, Recipes for a Perfect Marriage was published in 2006 and shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, translated into 25 languages and optioned for film. Her next novel The Miracle of Grace, was also turned into a screenplay, but it was her next project, the Ellis Island Trilogy, featuring feisty heroine Ellie Hogan, that made her a New York Times bestseller. The Lost Garden, The Dress and her latest novel, It Was Only Ever You followed, all to critical acclaim and achieving bestseller status.
Kate lives and works in Killala, County Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way. She lives in a house overlooking the sea with her artist husband, Niall Kerrigan, and their two young sons.. Kate writes every day in a small cottage in her mother’s back garden, in the nearby town of Ballina. She documents her life in a weekly column for the Irish Mail, and on the Irish radio programme, Sunday Miscellany.
Kate also teaches and mentors at National University College Galway (NUIG).
Giveaway of It Was Only Ever You
UK and Ireland only I’m afraid but for your chance to win one of two paperback copies of It Was Only Ever You, please click here. Good luck! Giveaway closes UK midnight on Sunday 6th August 2017.