Family divide

30th October 1998 at 00:00
DARK SHADOWS. By Joan Lingard. Hamish Hamilton Pounds 10.99.

When you move into the sun, shadows shorten," says Jess at the end of this intelligent and moving new novel, set in Belfast. The author is well-known for her Kevin and Sadie books, which also deal with the pressures teenagers feel, living in a divided community.

In this book, Jess, a Catholic, meets her Protestant cousin Laurie for the first time. The two branches of the family haven't spoken since Jess's father married a Catholic, Maeve O'Shea. A shared interest in music brings the girls together, and with Neal, Jess's cousin, they decide to enter a song-writing competition.

This is the simple framework Joan Lingard uses to tell a more complicated story which involves lies, bombing, kneecapping, joy-riding, bullying, playing truant and many combinations of discord, love and friendship.

The end is full of hope, with the families going together to listen to their children's music, but it comes after a near-tragedy.

Lingard grew up in Belfast and you can hear the accent in the dialogue. You also learn words like "mitching" for playing truant. For someone with such an economical, plain style, however, the author is somewhat over-generous with her exclamation marks, but this is nit-picking.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today