Friday, 10 April 2015

Ahoy For Joy by Keith Reilly

For Belfast teenager, Michael Colgan, words haven’t always come easily. However this changes after he meets Anna, a Dutch schoolgirl, on holiday. During their romantic, care-free, pen-pal exchanges, full of tales of the present and hopes for the future, Michael gives no clue of his true life, at a time when the ‘troubles’ dominated Northern Ireland.

Anna is enchanted by Michael and his words, which include poems painting beautiful visions of idealistic Irish life as well as stories describing the warmth and humour of the people surrounding him.

What Michael doesn’t write about is the trauma he experiences, which leaves him all but invisible to his peers, silently suffering as the conflict rages around him. Little does he know the profound effect that his words will have on others…

One of the advantages in reviewing books on my blog is that occasionally a book is offered to you that you may never have come across by yourself.
I love highlighting new authors and Ahoy For Joy is a debut novel from Belfast born writer Keith Reilly. I must admit I wouldn't have been attracted to the title of the book and it's not until you reach the ending do you realise where the title comes from and it all makes sense. 

I felt connected to this book in a number of ways. When I received an email from the author asking if I'd like to review his book which is set in Belfast I was actually packing to fly there to visit family. Fortunately the book arrived the day before we left so I was able to start reading it on the plane.
The cover picture which was painted by the author depicts the shipyards where my uncle worked, he actually left Glasgow to work there. 
The opening chapters of the book shows us Michael as a young boy from Belfast camping in Morecambe with the Boy's Brigade. Another uncle of mine was a BB Captain and his wife (like in the story) went with her husband on camping trips to cook for the boys.
There were more coincidences throughout the book but I'll keep them to myself.

I found myself really liking Michael. He was a young boy during the troubled times in Belfast and had been affected so badly that he couldn't relate to any of his peers,until he met a Dutch girl called Anna. They met while he was camping with the Boy's Brigade in Morecambe and fate would have it that her and her friends were leaving the very next day. Michael manages to get a note to her with his address and a correspondence between the two young people begins.
Halfway through the book something happens which I was not prepared for and I had no idea how the author was going to handle the rest of the book. He handled it brilliantly and the book had a good ending.
That's as much as I'm prepared to tell you I want the rest of it to surprise you as much as it did me.
 I must admit I cried  a few times towards the middle and definitely at the end of the story and today as I write about it I can feel the tears pricking my eyes.
This book is not my usual read but I'm so glad I read it.

Ahoy For Joy is a love story. It tells how two young people who through one quick meeting can have a profound effect on each others lives.
I love the author's style of writing it is almost poetic. The descriptions of Belfast added to the atmosphere of the book. There is a paragraph near the beginning that really touched me and I'd like to share it.
" The little words of encouragement that people receive from time to time. The little comments that make us feel okay about ourselves and our decisions sometimes come from unexpected sources. Life can be like that, just when we doubt ourselves the most,when our fears have invaded our consciousness,when our limitations seem to have been breached and our thoughts are at their lowest ebb,a little light shines."

Reading on the plane to Belfast where the book is set.

How very true.
I loved it and highly recommend it.
Download for Kindle

Paperback from The Book Depository frre postage worldwide

Scroll down to read about the author.


Born in Belfast in 1962, KEITH REILLY left to travel the world at 18, exploring Europe, India and South East Asia and meeting his Dutch wife, Maryke, en route. Today they live in Dorset and have two grown up children.
Keith focused on his career and became managing director of an international electronics firm. However, his creative side could not be ignored. Over the years he has published a number of artworks of Belfast and other cities, but more recently has turned to words for creative expression, from which emerged his debut novel, Ahoy for Joy.
The cover illustration for Ahoy for Joy is from an oil painting entitled Belfast Shipyard from Pearls house by Keith Reilly.

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