Book Review: The South (Colm Toibin)
A story about art, love and loss. Katherine Proctor follows the example her mother set many years ago and leaves her family in Ireland. She had not stopped loving her husband and young son, but convinces herself that she needs to start a new life. That life would be in Spain, where she meets Miguel, a man who fought against the authorities in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Second World War. Miguel’s past catches up with him and Katherine re-examines her relationships with Miguel, her painting and her homeland.
The South was Toibin’s debut novel, winning the Irish Times First Fiction Award in 1991. He expertly captures the essence of his homeland; at the same time he draws in the flavour of the Catalan language and the culture of Barcelona and the mountains cutting through the country. Having lived and worked in Spain, Toibin missed Ireland but missed Spain just as much when he returned home. The emotions of his main character, Katherine, reflect Colm Toibin’s own experiences and form the basis of the novel.