Turning for Home by Barney Norris review – anorexia and IRA secrets

The second novel from a rising literary star is a tale of public and private reconciliations

This second novel by the highly accomplished Barney Norris, who made his name as a playwright before publishing fiction, begins as a book about the peace process in Ireland, memory, guilt and confession. It moves, gradually, towards a terrifying account of anorexia. And by the end one feels that perhaps it has been most of all a study of the relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter. I’m not sure it entirely holds together, but the disjunctions are part of what makes this courageous piece of work so memorable, strange and sad.

It’s set, for the most part, on a single day somewhere in the Hampshire countryside, at the home of the ageing Robert. The family is gathering for his birthday, as it has gathered each May for the last 40 years. But at 80, ...