True Compass – A Memoir by Edward M Kennedy

Like most Irish people, I have always had an interest in Edward M Kennedy or Ted Kennedy and his famous brothers.

Indeed, any Irish child of  the sixties will have memories of the Kennedys. Few other families can claim to have influenced history in quite the same way as the Irish American Kenndy clan – the glamour, the tragedy, the flawed greatness. And Edward M Kennedy was no exception. Whatever you think of the mistakes he made throughout his life, it is hard not to respect his attempts to learn from them. True Compass: A Memoir starts a little shakily and you have sense of it being written at speed but as he gets into his stride – and particularly in the chapters where he talks about John F Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Nixon, Carter and Clinton – you can’t help but be fascinated by Edward M Kennedy’s view. He is an intelligent and sharp observer and has some interesting insights. This Edward M Kennedy memoir makes me want to read more about that period. If you are dithering over whether to buy this or not, I don’t hesitate to recommend it. I found it readable and interesting.

The Bankers by Shane Ross

The Bankers: How the Banks Brought Ireland to Its Knees by Shane Ross is an  interesting read for anyone curious about the reasons behind Ireland’s economic crash. It provides a lot of background and insight to the stories that dominated the Irish media and is one of a number of books published in 2009 that explore the reasons for the collapse of the Irish economy. Shane Ross lays the blame with the bankers and also has harsh words for the regulators. The Bankers is a well-written, fast-paced read, liberally peppered with names that will be familiar to anyone who has read the Irish business pages over the last decade. At just under 300 pages, it covers a lot of ground, is eye-opening at times and will certainly leave you wiser.

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve is a psychological thriller. There are authors you come to rely on to deliver consistency. For me,  Massachusetts-born Anita Shreve is one such author. I don’t think I have yet been disappointed by any of her novels.

Pack an Anita Shreve novel in your bag when you are heading off on on holiday and you are guaranteed a couple of hours entertainment.

Difficult themes

Shreve’s themes are often difficult and she will make you question your values and judgments so although the novels are easy to read, they do not always make for comfortable reading.

That said, the stories are compelling and well told.

I particularly like her earlier books like The Weight of Water and Fortune’s Rocks.

Published more recently, Testimony, is about a sex scandal in a New England school. At its heart is a shocking incident that takes place in the school. The story unfolds from the way in which the incident is discovered and handled by the school authorities and others. It is told from the perspective of the various characters caught up in and affected by the fallout. Interesting and challenging, Testimony will make you think.

If you like the sound of Testimony, you might also like The Lives of Stella Bain.