I'm rounding this book up to 4 stars despite the fact that there are some themes that I hate. I started this fairly lengthy book yesterday morning and finished it in the early hours of this morning. It is one of those stories that stay with you and I was still thinking about it when I woke up. The setting (Castlebay, Ireland) is different and there are no familiar secondary characters from other books except for Father Flynn. We are introduced to various characters back in the 1950's. We watch them grow up and follow them up until the sixties. We have Angela, a very dedicated teacher, who has an interest in helping Clare, a young girl from a poor family. Clare is the only bright one in her family and she will need scholarships to go further with her education. Angela was the same when she was younger. Clare works incredibly hard and manages to get a scholarship to secondary school. David is the son of the local doctor and he lives a privileged life. His mother is a very unlikeable character throughout the book. Gerrie is the son of the local photographer and he is the local playboy, no girl can resist him except for Clare. There are a host of other people but these characters are the ones to watch. We follow their lives and loves and know that things aren't going to necessarily turn out well. I read some of the negative reviews and I agree that the ending was pretty abrupt and not particularly satisfying. That's what had me still thinking about it this morning.
I'm not a fan of cheating and I disliked the fact that David was so easily able to begin an affair with another character. We know that he and his wife (I won't spoil that) were each other's firsts so it felt like a huge betrayal.