Holding by Graham Norton REVIEW

HoldingHolding by Graham Norton
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Published 6 October 2016
320 pages
Publisher Review Copy

Author’s Wikipedia page

Buy the book: UK

Buy the book: USA


I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.


Graham Norton’s masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.


It was widely accepted by the residents of Duneen that, should a crime be committed and Sergeant Collins managed to apprehend the culprit, it would be very unlikely that the arrest had involved a pursuit on foot.


I thought Holding was great. I’m a huge fan of Graham Norton and jumped at the chance to read this book. I was surprised by how dark this novel gets after it passes the halfway mark. It’s not gruesome or gory but ends up being much darker than I expected. This is a good thing. I love it when a writer drags me down an unexpected path leading into darkness. At its heart, Holding is an almost painfully real novel about being a human and the pain and happiness this brings. I loved the setting in a remote little Irish village. I grew up in a small coal mining village and there is something about living in a small village you can’t understand if you’ve always lived in a city. Holding offers great insight into life in a small village and some of this really resonated with my own experiences of growing up in a small village. The characters are only of many strengths of Holding. All of the characters, even minor and seemingly unimportant ones are so real and so made of flesh and blood I expected them to start walking around my house. I loved Brid, she’s so complex and wonderfully flawed. I felt her grief over the possibility the body might be Tommy was more deserved than that of Evelyn after all she was engaged to Brid. There is one point in Holding that broke my heart – the story of how Tommy Burke came to be born, a product of a violent rape. I wept buckets. I loved the way tension is built in Holding especially towards the end when PJ starts to uncover the truth. I had a great time reading Holding and would highly recommend it.




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