Book Review: Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O’Donoghue


I saw this book reviewed in this month’s Red magazine – and so saw if NetGalley had any ARCs – and they did – so I was lucky enough to receive a copy the day before publication date (so at least that means if you like the sound of it you can get a copy immediately – rather than me tempting you weeks before a book comes out!)

Here’s the blurb:

“After a tough few years floundering around the British film industry, experimenting with amateur pornography and watching her father’s health rapidly decline, Charlie and her best friend Laura journey to her ancestral home of Clipim, an island off the west coast of Ireland. Knowing this could be the last chance to connect with her dad’s history before she loses him, Charlie clings to the idea of her Irish roots offering some kind of solace. But when the girls arrive at Clipim, Charlie begins to question both her difficult relationship with Laura and her father’s childhood stories. Before long, she’s embroiled in a devastating conspiracy that’s been sixty years in the making . . . and it’s up to her to reveal the truth of it.”

At the start of the book I have to confess to finding Charlie a bit of an annoying millennial – sorry, I know I’m an old fart – but I wanted to give her a good shake! But I persevered – as I generally like Sarra Manning’s recommendations – and the book did, thankfully,  improve.

The fictional island of Clipim off the West Coast of Ireland was, in my imagination, like Great Cumbrae off the West Coast of Scotland where we used to visit as children.  A very small island where everyone knows everyone else’s business!  This mythical place had been part of Charlie’s family history – but she’d never been.  In fact she’d never set foot in Ireland at all despite her proud half Irish heritage!  However, she’d made a film about her Dad’s  time in Clipim as a child and a terrible tragedy that had occurred back then which was being shown at the Cork Film Festival – so Charlie and her best friend Laura hopped across to Clipim too.

Once on Clipim Charlie begins to suspect there is more to the historic tragedy than meets the eye.  There are some weird goings on in the present day there too.

The book is part self discovery for Charlie, part friendship / relationship issues, part murder mystery – and consequently kept me interested.

Charlie’s relationship with her parents was tricky – she seemed to be a complete Daddy’s girl – and her relationship with her Mum was generally really strained.  It was a real shame for both of them, as with a very poorly father, it would have been better for them both if there’d been some more give and take.

And her best friend Laura seemed a bit of a cow at times I have to say.  Charlie’s relationship with Maria was interesting – and I do wonder how it developed between the end of the main book and the epilogue.

The book seems to conclude really quickly, within the last few pages – and it didn’t feel like there were PROPER answers.  And I was also left confused about some of the characters – who appear to have just been totally weird, but not for any specific reason! Benjamin Barry who ran the caravan park was completely odd, manipulative and weird – but with no explanation why.

Whilst the book is not based on a true historical incident, and Clipim is not a real island in Ireland – there were ‘Magadalene laundries’ as is referenced in the book with stories that are still being uncovered today.  The unfolding of the tragedy did seem totally believable – if terribly sad.

Overall I did enjoy the book and thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC.






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