St Albans author explores wartime choices in newest book

Clar Ni Chonghaile. Picture: Clar Ni Chonghaile

Clar Ni Chonghaile. Picture: Clar Ni Chonghaile - Credit: Archant

A St Albans author is exploring abandonment, war, and a woman’s deepest motivations in her newest book.

Clar Ni Chonghaile. Picture: Clar Ni Chonghaile

Clar Ni Chonghaile. Picture: Clar Ni Chonghaile - Credit: Archant

Clár Ní Chonghaile has penned her third novel with Legend Press, The Reckoning - a tale about a woman who revisits Normandy and writes a letter to the daughter she deserted as a baby.

Working as a freelancer in communication, Clár was inspired by research into the World Wars and took eight months to write the 300 page fiction.

She said: “I read a lot about World War Two and one of the things that always struck me was all the men having to go to war.

“I was fascinated by how people can go to war, and by that I mean face death, and how everyone at home lived with the uncertainty, never knowing if their husbands were alive or dead.

“Think of the families who, over generations, would have been struck by these cataclysmic events. What struck me is that we are going through a similar period of upheaval. It is not the same physical challenges but I feel the same instability. I get a sense of a world in change.”

She cites Brexit, Donald Trump, the rise of automation, and the length of the Syrian War as examples.

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Clár said some people find the main character in The Reckoning, Lina Rose, “objectionable” - but she disagrees, adding: “The thing I explore in my other two books is personal choice - why do we do the things we do. I am not trying to excuse her actions but to explore her actions in the context. I would put it in part on the war.

“She doesn’t mince her words and is honest about the things she did.”

In 2016 Clár published her debut title, Fractured, and in 2017 she released her second book, Rain Falls on Everyone.

The Irish 46-year-old has a colourful career as a journalist in Spain, France, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Kenya. She worked at Reuters and The Guardian before turning freelance.

The Reckoning was first published in October last year.

The blurb reads: “In a cottage in Normandy, Lina Rose is writing to the daughter she abandoned as a baby.

“Now a successful if enigmatic author, she is determined to trace her family’s history through the two World Wars that shaped her life.”