Book Review: Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Home Stretch…

About the Book:

Shame and longing can flow through generations, but the secrets of the heart will not be buried for ever.

It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for a wedding. The day before the ceremony a group of young friends, including bride and groom, drive out to the beach. There is an accident. Three survive, but three are killed.

The lives of the families are shattered and the rifts between them are felt throughout the small town. Connor is one of the survivors. But staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame of having been the driver. He leaves the only place he knows for another life, taking his secrets with him. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, he makes a home – of sorts – for himself in New York. The city provides shelter and possibility for the displaced, somewhere Connor can forget his past and forge a new life.

But the secrets, the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. And before long, Connor will have to confront his past.

Graham Norton’s powerful and timely novel of emigration and return demonstrates his keen understanding of the power of stigma and secrecy – with devastating results.

My Thoughts:

I love The Graham Norton Show and ever since he released his first novel, I’ve been meaning to see if he writes as well as he performs. He does. He really does.

‘None of us are just the worst thing we ever did. We’re more than that.’

Home Stretch is a brilliant novel, layered and carefully arranged, rich in setting and intensity of emotion. The characters are flawed, crafted with an honesty that at times left me breathless. Graham knows how to tease out his story, breaking the narrative and shifting between eras with precision. He is a truly magnificent writer, far more so than I anticipated. There is wit within his work, but nothing comic, just a deep understanding of human nature and a love of all that is Irish.

‘This is what homecoming meant. Arriving in a place to discover you’re fluent in a language you’d forgotten you ever knew.’

This novel is a story about finding yourself and your place within this world, where you can exist easily within your own skin, without shame, regret, or longing. By the same token, it’s also a story about Ireland’s journey from intolerance through to progressive change and acceptance. This is done gently, alongside the main story, but reveals itself with significance. Home Stretch is a literary achievement that will appeal to fans of Irish fiction, both historical and contemporary. I loved it and will highly recommend it to all readers.


Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of Home Stretch for review.

About the Author:

Graham Norton is one of the UK’s most treasured comedians and presenters. Born in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin, Norton’s first big TV appearance was as Father Noel Furlong on Channel 4’s Father Ted in the early 1990s. He then secured a prime time slot on Channel 4 with his chat shows So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton.
Known for his quick wit Graham began hosting a variety of talent shows on BBC One from Strictly Dance Fever and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? to The Eurovision Song Contest and BAFTAs. Graham was soon approached by the BBC to front his own self-titled chat show The Graham Norton Show in 2007.
Graham Norton has won 9 BAFTAs for Best Entertainment Performance, and Best Entertainment Programme. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1, a show on BBC Radio 2 every Saturday, and is a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Norton won the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards in 2017.
Graham’s third novel will be published in hardback, eBook, and audiobook in October.

Home Stretch
Published by Hachette Australia—Coronet
Released 29th September 2020

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Home Stretch by Graham Norton

    • I’ve read the book & agree he’s a great author.
      He doesn’t need the ‘sex sells’
      He has enough talent not to need that.
      Too explicit for me.
      I’m a leave it at the bedroom door kinda gal

      Liked by 2 people

    • A really good best sellers ‘Chuck lit’ book which puts the Irish on the map as regards modern gay history. There’s a few twists and turns at the beginning but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down
      Loved how the main characters, Connor and Finbar are referred to by the name of Irish rather than the usual Paddy. A great holiday read.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! You have to jump on YouTube and look up The Graham Norton Show! He’s a UK evening celebrity talk show. Blisteringly funny! I’ve loved it for years.
      His novel is not funny though, just utterly brilliant. I think you’d like this one Claire, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a wonderful, good for my soul read. I love Maeve Binchy and Cathy Kelly and this felt similar. Think I’ll read his previous two novels now. Thanks for the review Theresa.

    Liked by 1 person

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