”Time Present and Time Past” by Deirdre Madden is a book of small volume yet powerful. Reading it was like slicing through a rich multilayered cake. We are invited to see just a piece of Fintan’s and his immediate family’s life, with no particular event starting or ending the story, just a slice of their lives. It was a philosophical insight into time and our relationship with it.
It was a reflection on the past generations, how they influenced us and how close or distant we feel from them, as well as a reflection on how we think about the future. I recall one description that I particularly liked: ”To engage too much with the future, in all its fragility and uncertainty, can make us feel dizzy with unease.” I don’t know about you, but this is exactly how I feel when I concentrate too much on thinking about the future. I personally also did some digging into the past when I was gathering information for my family tree, and I know how fascinating it can be to be able to see how people used to live, especially when they were your relatives. You are acutely aware that whatever happened to them has probably influenced your life in some way. They might have never known you, might have not ever met you or imagined your existence, yet you feel so close to them. You may be looking at their pictures, if you are lucky to have them, and see the resemblance to yourself, your mother or your father.
Fintan experiences moments when he feels detached from his reality. He takes interest in old photographs and through them tries to glimpse into the past. He has discussions with one of his sons, Niall, on whether or not the pictures show a truthful image of the past times. In the background, other members of his family are trying to come to terms with their past. His aunt Beth grieving after her husband’s passing and his sister Marina helping her but herself carrying a heavy secret.
Fintan also thinks about the future, as every parent probably does, he wonders about the choices his adolescent sons are making and what future they are going to make for themselves. The economic times of the early XXI century in Ireland are also shown as having a strong impact in shaping their future lives, as they have had for many other families. All the reflections that you come across while reading about the Buckley family are quite universal.
Yes, I enjoyed this book and I am gladly awarding it 3 arrows, sparrows or binoculars. Did I mention I paid 3 euro for it?
Arrows, sparrows or binoculars rating
– one of the best books I read
– good read
– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better
– don’t waste your time