In all honesty, I had never heard of this book and I picked it up more because Maggie O’Farrell had done the introduction… and that was all I needed to know to grab it!
Now, I must have a little whinge at the start of this review because whilst I loved Maggie’s introduction, her detailed analysis of Keane’s writing style and the plot gave away quite a lot of spoilers… and I found that quite frustrating. But I then re-read her introduction again after I’d finished the story and I found it so relatable, so if you do have this copy I’d personally recommend reading the introduction afterwards.
Any who… onto the actual story. This story tells the life of Aroon through childhood to adulthood, as a privileged daughter living in upper class Irish society during the 1920s. Whilst her life is filled with horses, a large house and lessons taught by a governess; there’s a sadness that surrounds her because despite everything, she has no friends and even her family seem to humour her presence. Her naivety and innocence means she often doesn’t pick up on some social cues, and my goodness my heart was hurting just reading some of the cruelties she endures. Keane’s aptitude at drawing out the toxicity in family dynamics was formidable, there was so much to observe in the interactions between Aroon and her family.
The St Charles estate is having financial troubles and the local vendors are now refusing to allow the family to add to their accounts – they need to be paid!
Her father is handling it in his own way and at first Aroon seems unaware of how bad things have got but as circumstances change, it becomes apparent that more drastic changes need to occur in the household and Aroon finally finds her role in the family, albeit her mother resists every change she makes.
Whilst the main takeaway from this story is how events and those around you shape you as a person (which really links to chapter one!), there’s a lot to be picked up on surrounding the changing times in Ireland and particularly the downfall of many of the upper class families at that time.
This book is delightfully sharp, dark and enjoyable. I can see why it was picked as a modern classic.
Good Behaviour is available now in hardback, paperback and eBook versions, I’ve got the gorgeous hardback version, which I would definitely recommend!
Until next time, stay safe, Chloé x
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