2016 Reviews · historical fiction · Ireland · romance

Beauty & Lace Book Review: It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan


Book blurb:

Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

My review:

Late 1950’s Ireland and New York plays the backdrop to a book I would label my favourite romance of the year, which is Kate Kerrigan’s latest novel, It Was Only Ever You.

Patrick Murphy is at the front and centre of It Was Only Ever You. Patrick is a young man with an incredible talent, who vows to make it big one day as a professional singer. Patrick is in love with a doctor’s daughter and aspiring artist named Rose however, their love is doomed from the start, as they come from completely different backgrounds. It is a love that will eventually take Patrick away from his homeland in Ireland, to the bright lights of New York city, where opportunity and a new love awaits.

After reading Kate Kerrigan’s last novel, The Dress, I immediately declared myself a firm fan of Kerrigan’s work. Now that I have finished reading her latest novel, It Was Only Ever You, I will say that I absolutely adored this book – even more than The Dress. It is such a wonderfully crafted book, that for me it earns the title of the best romance book of the year. Kerrigan works hard at the opening of the novel to set her scene in 1950’s Ireland. I felt a strong and immediate sense of place, which also extended to Kerrigan’s depiction of the societal attitudes of the time. Kerrigan uses this as an opportunity to show the reader the extent of the class divide in Ireland, as well as the lure of greater opportunities abroad. This is where New York comes into the picture, which is also described in picture perfect detail. I loved that this book had a strong music based theme grounding it. The opportunity to become immersed in 1950’s rock and roll, as well as popular Irish ballads was fantastic. Kerrigan’s research into the music of the times is clearly evident, as it runs throughout the storyline.

Characters are also a joy to connect with in It Was Only Ever You. Patrick, the lead protagonist, is cast perfectly as the charismatic Irish boy from a lower class background, who also gets embroiled in the lives of three very different women. The three women, Rose, Ava and Shelia, all play a part in Patrick’s life as the narrative progresses. Rose, Ava and Shelia are all equally interesting characters, with their own back stories to match. I found each of them likeable and very much appreciated that they had their own flaws. At many points of the novel it was hard to decide with which character you sympathies should lie.

It Was Only Ever You is a book that I definitely could not put down and when I was eventually forced to, I couldn’t wait to get back into the story. I firmly believe this is a sign of Kerrigan’s evocative storytelling ability, it is very easy to get lost in her writing. The finale of It Was Only Ever You has got to be one of the most beautiful and poignant endings to a novel I have read for some time. I am sure it will stay with me long after finishing the book.

It Was Only Ever You is a memorable tale, packed with love, loss, dreams and most importantly, the passion of music. It features a cast of endearing characters, who will be sure to occupy a space in your heart. Highly romantic, I recommend this book highly – five stars.


*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty and Lace. To read the original review on the Beauty and Lace website please visit here.


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