26 March 2010

Book Review: The O'Hara Affair by Kate Thompson

Fleur O’Farrell thinks that she has a pretty great life. She’s got a little boutique in the sleepy Irish town of Lissamore that does very well, a wealthy boyfriend Corban who seems to dote on here, and wonderful friends in the Kinsella sisters Rio and Dervla. Dervla’s just enjoying her new marriage when suddenly her mother-in-law who suffers with dementia has to move in with them, and Dervla finds herself having to be her carer. She’s horrified at the things she has to do for the elderly lady, but gets on with it to please husband Christian.

Around them, the town of Lissamore has been transformed with the arrival of a movie set called The O’Hara Affair. Fleur’s boyfriend Corban has ploughed a lot of money into the project, and she’s happy because a lot of her friends have got jobs through it. But as the film progresses, dark secrets are revealed, and a young member of the cast finds herself in a situation she doesn’t know how to get out of. With everyone being taken in by the glitz and glamour of the film, have they lost sight of their own problems?

I came across Kate Thompson last year when I read her novel The Kinsella Sisters, and I adored it. I loved the writing style and how quickly I got into the characters, so when I heard Kate was writing a follow up to that book I was quite excited. The O’Hara Affair isn’t a sequel like you would usually expect – the main character focus has shifted on to a minor character from The Kinsella Sisters, and Rio, one of the major characters from the first book, hardly pops up at all in this book. Still, I was curious to read it and find out how good it would be so when I received a copy a few weeks ago, I started it straight away.

Luckily for me, I did end up enjoying this just as much as the first. The main 2 characters of this book are Dervla, who was one of the Kinsella sisters, but is now married to Christian and unsure what she is doing with her life. I really liked the honest storyline around Dervla and I feel that Kate has done such a good job with what is quite a delicate storyline. Dervla ends up as the carer for her mother in law when circumstances change, and a lot of the book is spent watching Dervla take on a new role for her. Kate Thompson doesn’t hold back with the things that Dervla experiences, from personal hygiene to toilet accidents so at times its a bit surprising to read but it made it all feel very realistic. Dervla’s character was perfect too, caring and kind but showed her weariness at the task too.

The other main character was Fleur, who again did pop up in the previous book but only as a very minor character. She’s a French woman who has her own boutique, and I love the shop she works in, it really came alive in my mind and sounded perfect, especially set in a small Irish town as it was. Thompson clearly her research on vintage clothes and this really shows in these chapters. I felt Fleur went on a huge journey in the book, and it was very enjoyable going on that journey with her. There are so many ups and downs for the characters, and it kept it so interesting for the reader.

I really did enjoy this book, not just because the characters were very familiar to me from having read the previous book, but just because it is a very well told story that I could lose myself in for a few hours. Kate Thompson has a real skill for making her characters seem very believable and likeable as people. They have realistic feelings and the things that happen to them could just as easily happen to you and me. I also enjoyed catching up with some of the other characters from The Kinsella Sisters, even if it was only briefly to update us! The town of Lissamore was perfectly written, the perfect image of a sleepy Irish coastal town.

If you have enjoyed some of Kate Thompson’s previous works, then you will definitely enjoy reading The O’Hara Affair. The idea of a book on a movie set was one I was interested in, and the author has done it justice and beyond. You can tell she has researched every part of this very thoroughly as this comes across very much when you read it, and I felt that when it ended, I’d been on a real journey with the characters. Luckily for me, there is a third book coming out to be called That Gallagher Girl, a mysterious new character introduced at the very end of this book. Very enjoyable and recommended from me!

Rating: 4/5


  1. Do you have to read the kinsella sisters first before Reading this book is it a follow on?

  2. Hi Caz,

    I'd say that you probably do since both books are set in the village of Lissamore. However Chloe's review says it isn't a direct sequel so perhaps not.

    Leah x

  3. thank you for letting me know