When the Lights Go Out: Changing climate of a marriage

Book Review: With a family Christmas as a backdrop Carys Bray explores big issues

Carys Bray: ‘Wisely resists the cheap balm of tidy reconciliation’

Carys Bray: ‘Wisely resists the cheap balm of tidy reconciliation’

In a literary landscape in which cultural and political “timeliness” too often trumps artistry, it is a relief to discover there are still novels being written that confront the great questions of the day with nuance, skill and artistry. Rather than seeming, from first page to last, mainly to shout that they are about Brexit or American dictators-in-the-making, police brutality or the international refugee crisis, predatory men or, as we will all soon see, Covid-19, their interest lies in multilayered illumination of the lives affected and sometimes upended by the subject at hand.

At once the finely drawn story of a marriage on the skids and a nuanced appraisal of the variegated impacts of climate change, When the Lights Go Out, the third novel by Carys Bray, is one of these. It opens with a memorable encounter. A woman out Christmas shopping in town sees a man railing about climate disaster. It is pouring down. Indeed it has been raining almost unremittingly for weeks.

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