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The Passage: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Give a middle aged American Irishman a bar fight, put him on his sailboat headed to Ireland to find the true taste of Guinness and an amazing story emerges from Hurley’s imagination.   I could not put this book down, I was possessed by the story and the frame and range of the surface right to the depth the heart can reach.

I am so very happy Mr. Hurley asked me if I wanted to read it and that he sent me a PDF copy.  WOW.  Lucky ME!

I even read THE PASSAGE on two 4-hour car rides.  I could totally identify with the main character’s life – “Fitz” was just right and complete and steadfast and I just wanted to know how he was fairing on his path to salvation, redemption and his progress to shore up his self-worth.  The tragedies and mistakes were sublime and the droplets of humor and descriptions just tickled and delighted my imagination – holding my attention steadfastly.

Several years ago I reviewed another of Hurley’s books – THE VINEYARD.  The story was interesting and well written, but I could not identify with any of the 3 women characters.  None of them became real.  The book went on to win awards and I just thought “Oh well, we all have different tastes in reading.”

The twists and turns in the writing of this novel, were remarkably paced and just slid into this readers psyche with sometimes a sigh, a laugh or a didn’t see that coming.  It is so like life – no matter the taste of Guinness – no matter where.

“Do you believe in everlasting Love?”

My favorite quote came at PDF page 146: “Genre fiction uses plot to tell you a story about someone else’s life.  Classic fiction uses characterizations to tell you a story about yourself.”

What is holding onto you?  What is making you define yourself incorrectly?  How do you care and like yourself?  What pieces/peaces are you missing in your own journey?  What are the meanings you hold dear? And are those things, which you value – programed at age 10 true or false?

Life is definitely a journey and a process and so many of us have a middle-aged change of heart and endeavor.  It would be hard not to relate to this character and his story.  Irish magic just short of leprechauns and fairies adds just the right leverage to this tale.  I am passing this on to several friends for sure.

A remarkable read and I would give it a “10” and hope that it might reach the award phase and become a best seller.

About the Author (from book cover)

“Michael Hurley is the author of three novels and several works of nonfiction.  His debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, won the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for Book of the Year in 2013.  This second novel, THE VINEYARD, won the 2015 Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction.  A memoir, ONCE UPON A GYPSY MOM, was published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.  His essay collection, LETTERS FROM THE WOODS, was shortlisted for Book of the Year in 2005 by ForeWard Reviews.  Between 1995 and 2003, he published a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing, now collected in single hardcover volume entitled HURLEY’S JOURNAL.  He wrote THE PASSAGE while living in England and Wales.  He keeps a journal and stays in touch with readers on his website, www.mchurley.com

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THE VINEYARD: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, November 24th, 2014

“Dory was rich.  Stunningly rich. Although she thought of herself as someone just like everyone else, there was no one quite like Dory.  She lived her life as though everything were possible.” (Page 9)

“Michael Hurley holds a degree in English Education from the University of Maryland and a law degree from St. Louis University.  He is admitted to the bar in Texas and North Carolina.   His debut novel The Prodigal (2013) won the Chanticleer Grand Prize and was shortlisted for several other literary awards. After more than thirty years in trial practice, Michael retried in 2014 to write, sail, and pursue the secret of life fulltime.  He lives near Charleston, South Carolina, and keeps up with readers at www.mchurley.com “ (from the inside cover)

From the jacket:

“Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher, known only as ‘the fisherman,’ threatens to change everything they believe about their worlds – and each other.”
“…a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.”

I truly enjoy reading this romantic story / almost saga (can 3 months of summer be a saga?) and the problems the characters endure and muddle through.   This story was so well written it was just a get lost and enjoy the flow of the words on each page.  The premise was interesting too and I always love sailing stories, including water details, islands and the private culture developed by the isolation.  I had one day to read the 375 pages and then I was off to enjoy the beach myself.  The Biblical allegory was a bit blatant for my taste, but then I think many people do not know the stories these days so maybe that will not bother other readers.  I definitely felt I was relating to the Southern Christian experience and it made me laugh a couple of times in remembrance of my experience of these religious notions and how the people I encountered were not even aware that their deep down thinking was not very Global in its capacity – they often chock it up to superiority when it is a mask for fear.

The three women in the story were a hoot to read about until I watched what was going on in our country during this last election cycle.  The characters had a realness which was frightening and insulting and made me think about the 1% boys and girls who will be in control of the country – inherited wealth and no Global thinking.  Although Dory was caring and loving towards her friends, in personal crisis she was downright scary; this is a person in control and setting the standards?  In crisis she was an airhead and queen of the bling, who was very kind and generous to her friends.   Women as sexy manipulators – whew we are stuck in the religious mold again – let’s all go shopping;  I sent my pup jumping off my lap as I burst into a knee slapping happy dance!

The Ivy League produces three more who are really cupcakes to tradition and unable to see the big picture and in reality just want the same old same old of the wealthy cults.  A few clever moments thrown in to balance the boat and keep the keel balanced.  I just relaxed and let go of my cares.

Fabulous escape reading and I am sure the ‘30 some things’ of the world will make this a best seller.  That has left a rather bitter aftertaste in my sphere; we don’t know what we don’t know!

TLC Book Tours  – I enjoyed this read I think I would have liked the family saga about the timber industry in the Northwest a bit better – location, location, location.  Oh how the young are blinded by money and create a strange reality.

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