George V. Reilly

Review: The Grounds

The Grounds
Title: The Grounds
Author: Cormac Millar
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 367
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 26–30 April, 2009

Séamus Joyce, a former senior civil servant, returns to Dublin from self-imposed exile in Germany. He has been engaged as a consultant by Finer Small Campuses to evaluate his alma mater, King’s College Dublin, a third-rate, third-level in­sti­tu­tion.

Millar, himself an Irish academic, satirizes both Irish higher-level education and the brave new world wrought by the Celtic Tiger economy. It’s a different world from the depressed, inward-looking Dublin that Joyce moved to as a student. The plot moves ef­fi­cient­ly and some of the characters are, well, characters. Not Joyce though: he’s insecure and in­tro­vert­ed, still recovering from the events that led to the breakup of his marriage and losing his old position.

Amusingly, King’s College Dublin was invented by Millar’s mother, the novelist Eilís Dillon, in her 1956 novel, Death in the Quadrangle.

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