"Mr. Lynch's Holiday" by Catherine O'Flynn

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For much of Mr. Lynch’s Holiday we wait and watch as Dermot Lynch tries to draw his son out of the wretched place he winds up in after his wife leaves him. He makes his attempts with unsteady progress – after all, the younger Lynch has moved from Birmingham, in the U.K., to the Mediterranean coast of Spain, and the two haven’t seen each other since the death of Dermot’s wife. The surprising and endearing turnabout at the end of this narrative rewards the persevering reader and makes this story well worth taking up.   

Dermot Lynch, retired from driving a bus in Birmingham, decides to surprise his son, living on the Spanish Riviera, with a fortnight’s visit. He finds his son in a strained existence, reeling from his wife’s abrupt departure. The housing development, called Lomaverde, consists of brightly colored cubes on a bluff overlooking the sea. It’s been abandoned by the bankrupt builder, and has fallen into a state of disrepair shocking for such new buildings. This motif of shabbiness closely corresponds not only with young Eamonn’s emotional helplessness but also his youthful self-absorption. His Dad provides good company for a time, a respite from his quirky
neighbors, but soon starts to provide a sterner hand in his son’s life. This impulse leads toward its logical end, but the climax surprises us nonetheless. The more we consider it, the more we feel we should have seen it coming.

Surprising, gratifying, true to life, and populated with intriguing secondary characters, Mr. Lynch’s Holiday deals also with some themes taken from today’s headlines: the depressed European economy, the hazards and fugitive nature of illegal immigration, and class struggle. A bit of a slow liftoff, but beguiling as it goes, and a splendid denouement – this is well done, exceptional.