In his first novel, Last Light Breaking, which begins with the line, “I am old. I am old. I sit in my pyjama trousers, cold,” Patrick Corcoran creates a likeable, quirky, and refreshingly realistic character, Connolly. Through Connolly, Corcoran boldly expresses thoughts many of us have had but might not say aloud, and experiences we might only share with our closest friends, many of which we may lie about even to ourselves. It is this novel’s daring honesty and its ability to make me feel as though I was listening to real life experiences told to me face to face, that made the book so appealing to me.
During several passages, I could almost hear the voice of Connolly telling me about his sweet, sorrowful memories and mischievous encounters. In passages in which the characters sing and recite poetry, such as the poetry of William Butler Yeats, I could clearly imagine the sound of Connolly’s singing voice to be deep and slightly raspy.
Three special women exist during the different periods of Connolly’s life, in Bagenalstown, Ireland and in Wales. The novel explores his relationships with them, which stir up in him feelings of passion, guilt, joy, bliss, and bittersweet nostalgia.
Besides describing Connolly’s significant romantic relationships, especially through flashback, Last Light Breaking also tackles philosophical and theological questions and presents them in everyday conversations, such as through Connolly’s conversation with his young grandson, Sean.
Sean is a character who embodies childlike innocence as well as honesty and curiosity. Since the book often mentions religious subject-matter and Connolly’s Catholic upbringing, I believe that it might have been the author’s intention to include a memorable child character to echo Jesus’ words, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 ESV)
If you would like a quirky, comical, and emotion-stirring read and don’t mind reading passages that include some descriptive sexual language, you might want to check out Last Light Breaking by Patrick Corcoran.