Helen Dunmore discovers secrets and lies in a thoughtful novel about an Irish family
Deirdre Madden's novels have long been saturated with ideas of memory's relationship to time. She dramatises the ways in which an individual may inhabit several different times at once within an ordinary day, or even hour. In her 1996 novel, One by One in the Darkness, three sisters come together in their mother's house, shortly before the IRA ceasefire in 1994. The characters have no sense that this is imminent. Instead, their every thought and action is shaped by the decades of conflict during which they have come to consciousness and then maturity. The Troubles exist in a present tense where every act contains the past and implies the future. The brutal killing of the sisters' father is not a matter of the past, but of every living moment.