Mr Lynch’s Holiday by Catherine O’Flynn serves as a warning for people who holiday in some exotic location or other and then impulsively decide to sell up and move to the Maldives or Thailand or Mexico, or in the case of this story, Spain.
Big mistake. Apparently, beautiful weather, wonderful beaches, a new house in a swanky development and all that goes with it isn’t the luxurious, idyllic life that I would have expected.
Dermot Lynch, the Mr Lynch of this story, is a widower in his seventies, whose wife has recently died. He decides to travel to Spain to visit his only son Eamonn, who, along with his girlfriend Laura, bought into Lomaverde, a luxury development sold to people looking for an escape from their old lives. Unfortunately the developers of Lomaverde went broke, leaving Eamonn, Laura and a handful of people who they are sick of the sight of, living in a ghost town with feral cats and an swimming pool.
When Dermot arrives in Spain, Laura is mysteriously absent and Eamonn is suffering from depression. Dermot quickly gets sucked into the social side of things in Lomaverde, something which Eamonn tells his father that he and Laura try hard to avoid. Early on in their time in Spain, Eamonn and Laura made friends with other expatriates, although not with any of the locals. Soon after the development failed, most of the residents were angry and feeling trapped, and the gloss wore off their earlier friendships.
As the story evolves it turns out that Laura has gone home to England, possibly for good.
Dermot and Eamonn obviously love each other, but they don’t have a great deal in common. Dermot was a bus driver who is practical and stoic, while Eamonn is like a wet blanket, constantly sending Laura emails, pleading with her to return. (Obviously we are not seeing Eamonn at his best here, but you just know that if Dermot’s wife had left him, he would have done something about the situation).
The locals have the worst of it in Lomaverde, although Mr Lynch’s Holiday is not their story. The Lomaverde residents are afraid of the locals because of a spate of thefts and graffiti. The locals were not paid for their work by the developers and worse, due to poor work practices, one man actually died during construction, with his widow not even receiving any compensation for his death.
One conversation I really enjoyed in this book occurred when was Eamonn chipped his father about calling people something Eamonn said was racist. Dermot pointed out that his fellow bus drivers, who were his best friends were from Pakistan, Trinidad and Bangledesh, while Eamonn’s friend’s were all white. I enjoyed this because I am now old enough to realise that my own parents are not (or were not) always wrong.
Dermot, as an Irishman living in England, made a conscious decision with his wife to name Eamonn to celebrate his family’s Irish heritage. All of their lives Dermott, his wife and Eamonn also experienced being treating in particular ways because they were Irish (or perceived to be), which they all dealt with in their own ways.
The story started slowly, but as it develops, you realise that both Dermot and Eamonn have more of a back story than expected. There are plenty of insights and quite a few surprises.
I still think if a large amount of money ever falls into my lap, I’ll go and live on a tropical island, lie on a beach and drink out of coconuts all day, despite Eamonn’s experience in Spain. Mr Lynch’s Holiday is more than just a holiday read, but was just as enjoyable.