Book Review: There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

About the Book:

A witty and warm debut novel from a young Irish writer. A story of family, grief, and the ways we come together when all seems lost.

Molly Black has disappeared. She’s been flighty since her parents died, but this time – or so says her hastily written note – she’s gone for good.

That’s why the whole Black clan – from Granny perched on the printer to Killian on Zoom from Sydney – is huddled together in the Dublin suburbs, arguing over what to do.

Former model Lady V presumes Molly’s just off taking drugs and sleeping with strangers – which is fine by her. Cousin Anne, tired of living in Molly’s shadow, is keeping quiet, and cousin Bobby is distracted by his own issues.

But Molly’s disappearance is eerily familiar to Uncle John. He is determined never to lose anyone again. Especially not his niece, who is more like her mum than she realises.

Published by Head of Zeus

Released November 2022

My Thoughts:

This was magnificent. There were very strong Maeve Binchy vibes coming through with this one for me. The combination of wit, warmth, and sincerity was all too reminiscent of Binchy’s earlier iconic works, such as Circle of Friends and The Glass Lake. Billed as a story about grief, it is incredibly uplifting and was like a much-needed balm to my soul. This was a story about family and how the ties of family can stretch and flex, feel as though they’re on the verge of snapping, yet still maintain their hold.

Ryan writes with such warmth and natural humour and the way in which she crafted her story, the many perspectives and story threads all weaving together, made for a compelling and immersive read. Molly Black is the orphan of the family, and as such, she is now the responsibility of all, despite being an adult. None take this responsibility more seriously than John, who not only oversees the lives of his nieces and nephews, but also his brothers, sister, and sister-in-law. John and his wife Helen are childless, so assume the unofficial roles of parents to all, but it is Molly they have truly focussed on since the death of her mother when she was only eighteen. And besides, John is now retired, and he has to fill his days with something, so when he isn’t waging war with his vegan recycling fanatic neighbour, he micromanages the family.

Anne is the overlooked cousin, who feels inferior to Molly’s bright light, whose brother escaped to Australia several years ago and is only ever seen via zoom now, whose mother has been a religious fanatic ever since Anne’s father left the family, and who draws comfort from Excel spreadsheets and routines. Bobby is the golden boy of the family, a former rugby player who is weighed down by a grief of his own that sees him keeping himself removed from everyone, particularly his own mother. V is John’s sister-in-law, a former model, now mother of nineteen-year-old twins, Blur and Oasis (nicknames, of course, think pop music from about twenty years ago), a gym junkie with a broken ankle and a barely suppressed midlife crisis in the making. B is Molly’s best friend, a food vlogger riding a rising star who thinks he’s met his perfect man, but how does Molly fit into his new relationship. And then there’s Danny, the youngest of John’s brothers, the youngest uncle, who is battling demons so heavy, and who is also John’s cross to bear, or so he thinks. Alongside these family members are other aunts, uncles, and cousins, each with their own stories, both independent from their family as well as linked in.

This type of novel is my favourite kind, with its big cast, with everyone and their stories stitched together seamlessly, no thread left untucked. There’s Been a Little Incident is a cracking debut, life affirming and uplifting, it was an absolute joy to read from the first page up until the last. I’ll be waiting eagerly for whatever Alice Ryan writes next.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

  1. Pingback: Top 15 Books of my 2022 Reading Year | Theresa Smith Writes

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