The Heart of Summer

Irish novelist Felicity Hayes-McCoy (The Library at the Edge of the World) returns to the charming fictional town of Lissbeg, Ireland, in The Heart of Summer, the sixth in the Finfarran Peninsula series. As the summer season begins, her warmhearted characters are adjusting to recent changes. Newlyweds Aideen and Conor navigate life on the farm with Conor's family, and librarian Hanna Casey is enjoying the new home she shares with her architect partner, Brian Morton. When Brian's grown son appears for an unexpected visit and an old flatmate of Hanna turns up with an invitation to London, Hanna decides to take a holiday, which prompts some serious self-reflection for both her and Brian.

Hayes-McCoy captures the interconnectedness of small-town life, centering her narrative on the former convent, now library, where Hanna works. Familiar characters (including Hanna's irascible mother, Mary) make welcome reappearances, and the lush beauty of an Irish summer is almost a character in itself. Hayes-McCoy's characters are flawed but compassionate; they make mistakes, learn to listen to one another and try again. Meanwhile, the local castle sees increased foot traffic from cruise-ship passengers, and builder Fury O'Shea, whose bluster belies his kindness, has a finger in every pie, as always. Hayes-McCoy expertly blends colorful local history with complex family relationships and the restorative power of a walk through Finfarran's green fields. The Heart of Summer is a cozy, comforting return to Lissbeg and a thoughtful meditation on the choices that shape our lives. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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