I have been meaning to read this book for a long while. The cover intrigued me; a Don Quixotic tale unravelling the relationship between a blind man and his Sancho Panza, set in Ireland in the 18th Century; the lore of a real harpist whose history is surrounded by as much enigma as the tunes he wrote.
I was most taken by the narrative form Foran used to weave his tale. In almost mythic proportion, the first half focuses on the aging Carolan, a celebrity harpist who is making one redeeming pilgrimage before the end of his life. Carolan and his best friend and guide, Owen Connor, traipse through the countryside and encounter many locals from sheriffs to paupers, all spun under the magic of Carolan's infamous spell.
The setting lends for a grisly and crude scope into the world of a bygone era of famine and despair.
The second half of the story focuses on Owen Connor, Carolan's much younger guide, his budding relationship with the scullery maid Annie, his desire to rise above his lesser position, and the trouble he encounters for stealing books the prove food for his voracious mind.
The disintegration of Carolan physically and mentally, and the caveat given Owen pertaining to his own potential demise is a well-woven parallel.
This is an interesting snapshot into a time and country where music and lore abound and the oral tradition spread like wild fire. Foran is a more than competent purveyor of such a tale and intermixes history and fiction quite well. He also has a supreme talent for dialect and dialogue.