Landscape and seascape are central to poet Sue Hubbard’s elegiac story of loss and valediction. Newly widowed, Martha Cassidy returns to her husband’s writing retreat, a cottage on the Kerry coast, 'the end of the world with nothing between her and America except the cold sea' ... Here Martha confronts her own ghosts. Beautifully, the novel’s structure raises to consciousness an anterior trauma buried in Brendan’s loss that had opened a rift in their marriage. Their only son, Bruno, died in childhood. Scarcely mentioned in the earlier chapters, he is gradually reclaimed for Martha through a landscape of memory ... Minor characters...dramatise the struggle between old and new. But Hubbard’s most profound effects occur when, keeping the narrative tight to Martha’s consciousness, she evokes what Romain Rolland’s famous letter to Freud called 'the oceanic feeling' – the sensation of being one with the cosmos. 'When there’s nothing left,' Brendan had written, 'there’s still the ocean and the sky'; and his widow finds healing, 'merged with the rough brown scrub ... the grey mountains'.
Sue Hubbard’s quiet, gorgeous Rainsongs doesn’t rely on plot — there is not very much to the story — but it is a haunting read nonetheless ... Much of Hubbard’s book is taken up with meticulous descriptions of the land, the weather, the cottage, the terrain, the ocean and the Skelligs in the distance ... So careful is her prose, so beautifully wrought and thoughtful her passages, that the reader is swept along in this...quiet novel about a woman picking her way carefully through loneliness, grief and healing.
A recently widowed English woman, Martha Cassidy, is driving in the dark, lost somewhere outside Cahirsiveen. Her husband, Brendan Cassidy, has died suddenly of a heart attack, and she is on her way to his remote summer cottage on the headland. The practical need to sort and pack up his things is clearly more than that. 'Coming here forces her to accept his loss. This was always his place.' ... Hubbard’s precise descriptions of the physical landscape are tremendous and moving. There is a real sense of Kerry here, and Martha’s empathy with Irish people past and present permeates her solitary adventure.
Shortly after her husband, Brendan, dies, Martha Cassidy steels herself to make the trip from their London apartment to his cottage on the remote west coast of Ireland. There she finds more sheep than people, while the humans she does encounter arouse her curiosity and provide sources of both comfort and contention ... Through the rugged and unforgiving beauty of the Irish countryside and the spare but heartfelt empathy of this place of wise souls, Martha navigates the hardest transition a wife and mother must ever face. For her keen and gracious insights into the relentless grieving process, for her transcendent evocation of the rough charm and enduring splendor of Ireland’s rural treasures, Hubbard deserves a place in the literary pantheon near Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, and William Trevor.
Hubbard’s affecting but lightly plotted third novel takes readers on a brief, refreshing sojourn in Ireland’s County Kerry. Martha Cassidy, recently widowed by her half-Irish husband, returns to his writer’s cottage on the remote western cusp of the country, where new economic forces and those who wield them clash with homespun locals and their way of life. Upon arrival, Martha encounters a small cast of men emblematic of the conflict: relentlessly ambitious real estate mogul Eugene Riordan; stalwart Paddy O’Connell, a cottage owner at odds with Eugene; and Colm, a young man with fierce loyalty to his home town ... Despite thin plotting, Hubbard’s ruminations on grief carry this novel and should appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah or Claire-Louise Bennett.