Danny Boyle leaves Ireland and all he has ever known in the aftermath of a murder he is closely connected to and looks to start anew in Canada. Joining his beloved Uncle Martin, Danny hopes for not only a new beginning but also for a new, refreshed take on life in general. Wandering in Exile is the sequel to Peter Murphy’s Born and Bred, but starting the series in the middle did not cause many gaps or create any plot confusion. Murphy does a nice job of strategically placing snippets from the first novel into the sequel, but does not bog down the text with the past and instead weaves it through the story.
Once settled into his Uncle’s apartment, Danny must accept that he will also be sharing his temporary residence with Martin’s boyfriend, David. The situation is accepted, but albeit uncomfortable for all at various times, but works out for all of the men. Danny soon gets a job, joins a band and gets a place of his own.
While Danny is getting his bearings, the story does check on situations unfolding in Ireland and eventually, Danny’s on again off again girlfriend Deirdre decides to join him in Canada. The relationship and dynamic between the two shifts and shapes the plot and takes Wandering in Exile to a new place. Deirdre is smart, warm, thoughtful and ready to give Danny her all even when he doesn’t seem ready to take it. This strong support by an important female character is initially unwavering, particularly when Martin is diagnosed with AIDS, but when Danny begins to unravel, so does Deirdre in an entirely different manner. After Martin’s death, Deirdre decides that having a child of their own will provide Danny not only with a distraction, but will also give him an outlet and a family base of his own. The couple ends up married and a daughter follows a son, but Danny’s drinking and ultimately his past, begin to catch up to him. The desired goal of a family base for Danny backfires and as Danny and Deirdre navigate the world of marriage, sex, love, parenthood and pain, the two begin to change significantly. The unraveling of their relationship and the emergence of Deirdre as a woman/character is actually quite tragically beautiful.
Wandering in Exile has a few subplots woven throughout the story that fit nicely with the main plot. These may make the reader give pause in order to pay attention to who is speaking and not get lost, but Peter Murphy does an excellent job of keeping the stories aligned. These subplots expose the reader to action in Ireland, church workings and even a bit of supernatural observation. Murphy keeps his characters well-developed, reachable, passionate and raw. Even the children in the story play important roles and are provided with real development instead of only being a mere mention or plot afterthought.
I would like to go back and read the first novel in this series and hopefully, Peter Murphy adds another book. While Wandering in Exile does wrap up nicely, the reader will find that they are not quite ready to say goodbye to the characters.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.wordpress.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Peter Murphy. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.