“The Mermaids Singing” by Lisa Carey starts slow. Three women of different generations, Cliona, Grace and Grainne, provide the focus for this winding tale that switches between various points of view and points in time. By the fifth chapter, I was hooked and not wanting to pause for other things between chapters.
Lisa Carey’s first strength is an excellent portrayal of sensuality and sexuality. Her description of lust describes perfectly the feeling of intense longing brought about by that rush of hormones that accompanies desire. Beyond that, “The Mermaids Singing” exemplifies the strength of emotion caught in anticipation that typically becomes diminished by actual sexual contact. Underneath blatant displays of sensuality, we sense a drive for true connection to meet each person’s need to know and to be known.
As we get to know Cliona, Grace and Grainne, we see periods of both growth and stagnation in their lives. Their lives together and apart show three very different woman connected by fierce loyalties to their own personal values. Unfortunately, none are able to share themselves in a way to truly connect and understand each other.
In the end, themes of both family bonds and alienation work together to bring the individual story lines together in a way that shows the universal conflict between expressing one's individuality and experiencing personal growth while remaining a loyal and loving family member. I recommend this book to those who enjoy entwining tales about strong women, myths about the sea, and picturesque descriptions of quaint Irish villages.