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.