The Effect of Her by Gerard Stembridge.

The Effect of Her: A Novel by Gerard Stembridge

Here’s the thing about reading:

There will be a book or two that you won’t enjoy reading.

And most people would tell me to stop reading it then and choose another book to read.

Well, that’s where the dilemma comes in. I can’t make myself stop a reading a book the moment I start reading it. I can’t leave a book unfinished once I have started it! Hence, I have no choice but to force myself to finish reading the book anyway. It is a torturous and arduous task to accomplish but that’s me.

The Effect of Her by Gerard Stembridge is that book. Perhaps other readers may enjoy the book more than I’d have, but sadly, I didn’t and I’m not afraid to say it. I liked the cover of the book though; blue is one of my favourite colours. But the story was enough to make me feel blue about it, and it’s not one of my favourite coloured emotions.

Synopsis by Goodreads:

Mags Perry, a journalist, flees her marriage in England to create a new life in what she hopes is a different Ireland.

Francis Strong, a teenager obsessed with literature, leaves his family for the dizzying freedoms of the capital.

CJ, a disgraced politician in search of a way back to power, meets a woman who may change the direction of his life.

In his breathtaking new novel, Gerard Stembridge weaves together a cast of unforgettable voices to tell the story of a whole society in flux. As his characters struggle towards happiness and freedom, he asks where true change comes from: the individual or her political masters.

The synopsis at the back of the book failed to illustrate what might take place in the story.

Politically Challenging

It did not expand on what Margaret ‘Mags’ Perry had in mind when she was looking for a new life in a different Ireland. In the first half of the book, she was joined by other women who were protesting and fighting for women’s freedom of choice and rights to choose what they thought was right for themselves. Upon doing some research, I had discovered that Ireland in the 1970s had some restrictions imposed that barred women from acquiring contraceptives and other birth control options. Okay, so Mags Perry was looking for some sort of freedom but not for herself. She does, however, find a new lease of life for herself.

Whatever soul-searching mission Francis Strong had undertaken for himself was very understated and underrated. Somehow, I felt that everything was all over the place, with no head or tail of what he had in mind when he wanted to search for freedom. It was a bit hard to pinpoint exactly what he was looking for. And the idea of what sort of relationship he was looking for comes into question. At least as a male, he was quite accurately portrayed. From being with different girls to maintaining a friendship with a girl whose older sister was married to his older brother.

And what about CJ, the poor disgraced politician? Apparently, the person he was having an affair with has a name that confused me from start to finish. What was her real name? Ann Teresa or Terry? One minute, Terry appeared. Next minute, it was Ann Teresa. Were they both the same person or does she have a split personality disorder?

Prior to this, I was stuck in another challenging read, The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers, where the characters were struggling to stay afloat in a dire financial and economical situation. So I went from investment and finance to politics, divorce and women’s rights to freedom. Oh boy. All the topics that I found boring and uninspiring in my life.

I’m sorry to say but this is the most difficult book I’ve ever read. I suppose because of the Irish politics which I don’t understand much of to begin with, and the plot that puts me to sleep every time I picked the book up to read. Sure, I had to go online and do some basic research about the restrictions on women during the 1970s in Ireland and I finally understood what the political part was about, but there were still some of the technical Irish jargon that made my brains go ‘bzzt bzzt’.

So instead of leaving a book unfinished, I forced myself to finish it anyway, much to my chagrin. The first chapter almost had me there, but somehow the story began to slow down and I knew something wasn’t right because each time I wanted to read, I’d go a few pages and then start yawning. I hope I never have to do that ever again!

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