Top critical review
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on 3 July 2011
Charlie Connelly moves to Dublin to live with his girlfriend, Jude, and becomes obsessed with discovering his Irish 'roots' Apparently one of his great-great-great grandfathers, John Connelly, was an Irish immigrant to London in the 1840s, and charlie Connelly goes in search of him, finding out about his life as a dockworkers in the East end of London, and trying to discover where in Ireland he came from.
Genealogy is a curious thing. Charlie Connelly must have had thirty-two great-great-great grandparents, so why should this one have obsessed him to the exclusion of all the others? I felt a bit sorry for the other thirty-one, spurned by Connelly in his search for the elusive John.
Connelly meanders round Ireland looking for John's origins, and explores London to find out about his life there. There are a lot of things I would have liked to know about that aren't mentioned. For instance, Connelly seems to have no interest at all in John's children, who I would have liked to know about, or any of the subsequent generations of his family. And there is a lengthy and melancholy discussion with a priest in London about the loneliness of the local elderly Irish immigrants. Why they are lonely is never explained though. Why haven't they got families, friends, children etc? This question is never asked.
Frankly, Connelly's obsession over his Irish 'roots' got on my nerves a bit. As far as I am concerned, where you are born and grow up is where your roots are. My roots are firmly embedded in the soil of Surrey, no matter that my distant ancestors (and my near ancestors, for that matter) came from elsewhere. 'Face it, Connelly, your roots are in south London, whether you like it or not' I wanted to snarl at him by the end of the book. Why can't he be satisfied just to be an Englishman who has moved to Dublin? I don't know.