The Last Weekend Of The Summer
by Peter Murphy
on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2018
They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.
A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.
Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway!!
Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family had to move to Dublin. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for “The Wine and Gold.” He also played football (soccer) in secret! After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff, Paddy, Tommy and Sean. Murphy financed his education by working summers on the buildings sites of London. He also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world.
But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while and ended up living there for more than thirty years. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to university, Murphy answered the long-ignored internal voice and began to write. He has published five novels so far and has begun work on a new one. Nowadays, he lives in beautiful Lisbon with his wife Eduarda and their well-read dog, Baxter.
Connect with Peter at:
– Twitter – PeterD_Murphy
– Facebook – PeterDMurphyAuthor
Q&A with Peter Murphy
Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both! In my first novel, LAGAN LOVE, history and mythology were the backdrop and Ireland’s economic boom was a force of conflict and juxtaposition. Much of the story happened in places I frequented and people I knew showed up in the book.
The times I have lived through can be found in BORN & BRED, WANDERING IN EXILE, and ALL ROADS. These books—THE LIFE & TIMES TRILOGY—spanned a period of sixty years, and global events became a part of the different characters as they followed their own paths.
Now while most writers insist that their books are not about themselves, that might not be the whole truth. Every writer has been formed by experiences that shape perspective and reaction. Writers should write about what they know and, in my case, by virtue of all that happened me along the way, I know a little about my life.
In my most recent novel, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER, I focused entirely on family dynamics and made little reference to time and place. Family is timeless, fascinating, good and bad, and a very fertile place for a writer to work in.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
It really depends on the story. LAGAN LOVE was my homage to my home town of Dublin. I wanted to record a way of living that was being altered by progress. The ideas started to form back in the mid nineteen-seventies but the story was not written for another thirty years.
You can read more about that here: http://peterdamienmurphy.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-behind-lagan-love.html
As it was my first effort at writing a novel, I tried following the swirling story line and got hopeless lost. I would still be there if it were not for the intervention of my editor and publisher, the great and wonderful Lou Aronica, who could see far more clearly than I. Under his guidance I found my way to the end.
THE LIFE & TIMES TRILOGY happened by accident. I had the idea in mind but when I began to write it, it didn’t work—something I had to accept one hundred pages in. So, I started again, wrote almost another hundred pages and arrived at the same conclusion. Then, after a few weeks of despair and despondency, I realized that it had to be three books. I was, however, able to recycle much and now one of the original first chapters can be found near the end of the last book.
Like many things in life, wisdom and knowledge comes after the doing and each book I write teaches me a little more about writing. THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER was planned and plotted before I wrote anything.
That said, the closing scene was written very early on because it came to me one evening and I loved it. It still causes me to get a little choked up.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Notwithstanding that: Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination etc, the answer is yes.
This was a cause for concern when I first published, but most people enjoyed seeing themselves in the pages and it became a joke amongst a small circle of friends back in Dublin.
I had one negative reaction from a person in Toronto who was very upset to be “used as a character in a novel,” but he hasn’t read it. If he did he might like the character he helped to form.
I see no point in taking a real person and applying a thin disguise. Also, people should be able to see a part of themselves in written characters. They may not like what they see but that is how we relate to each other—real or fictious, for good and bad.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Each book has been a different experience and has changed the way I write. While writing my first, I would walk with my dog when I was trying to resolve some issue. Often the solution would form in my mind so I would phone home and leave myself a message. I also discussed plot issues with my dog and, depending on her level of disinterest, I would know what had to be done next.
Other times I stared out the window not seeing what was there. Instead I saw my imaginary creatures resolving their issues. Writers are, by many definitions, mad as hatters and the more I write the madder I become.
Tell us why we should read this book.
This is a very difficult question for me to answer as I was raised to believe that self-praise was no praise. So, in an attempt to brag modestly, I believe THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is the written version of a weekend by the lake with family—something most of us can relate to, to invest in, and thoroughly enjoy without having to spend hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get there. It is the story of people most readers already know and will recognize. Some readers may even find themselves by the lake. And while the world around us seems to be going through one of its “confused” phases, it is a story of how we find our way through difficult times.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
The great Canadian writer, Guy Vanderhague, who produced work of such quality that he has quietly won three Governor General Awards.
Irishman Brian O’ Nolan (aka Flann O’ Brien, etc.) who made absurdity funny and normal.
J.K. Rowling who wrote books that inspired my children to read.
Gabriel García Márquez whose big books caught the world’s imagination and whose final works were masterly in their brevity, style and form.
What are you reading now?
JAMES JOYCE, by Edna O’ Brien.
THE HISTORY OF THE SIEGE OF LISBON by José Saramago.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes. It began as one thing but after submitting the first draft to my editor, it is about to become the story of a simple-minded girl falling in love with a man with a dark secret. Set on the West Coast of Ireland in the early nineteen forties when neutral Ireland was trying navigate its way through the waves caused by the Second World War.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Maggie Smith as Gloria.
Kathy Bates as Mary.
Zoe Perry as Buddy.
Jason Bateman as Norm.
Rachel Mcadams as Carol.
Viggo Mortensen as Johnny.
Mariana Mourato as C.C.
Ian McKellan as Jake.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
People watching while sipping coffee in the Praça Luís de Camões in the middle of Lisbon.
Fettuccine carbonara (or puttanesca.)
Thank you for the opportunity to drop by and “chat” with your readers and for you interest in my book,
Read an excerpt:
As the truck slithered to a halt on the gravel road, Susie and Joey took off. It was one of their cottage rituals, running to Gloria who stood waving from the veranda. For the last few years, Joey had let Susie win but had always made it look like he was running as fast as he could. Johnnie and Carol sat back and watched. They always gave the kids a few moments with Gloria before they joined them.
“So, what’s really going on?” Carol asked without looking over at him.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a little dark cloud hovering over your head.”
“Damn. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice it.”
“Come on, out with it.”
“Dad’s coming too. He’s coming sometime Saturday morning.”
“Does your mother know?”
“I don’t think so. Gloria wanted to break the news to everyone at the same time.”
“Oh dear, so Buddy doesn’t know yet?”
“No, and there’s more.”
There always was with his family, but Carol didn’t say that. Instead, she just sat for a moment taking it all in. And when he was finished, she squeezed his hand and leaned across to kiss his cheek. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Are you going to be okay?”
“Don’t worry about me; I’ll be fine. And we’re all going to have a great time, no matter what.” He smiled and winked at her. “Ready?”
“Showtime,” she smiled back, and she got out and walked towards the veranda. She knew what he was doing; he was getting himself ready for another weekend of enabling his sisters and his mother. She wished he wouldn’t, but there was no point in saying that. Instead, she’d be as loving and supportive as he needed her to be. It was how they dealt with life—along with having a laugh at themselves. “And stop checking out my ass,” she called over her shoulder as she went.
“Better yours than someone else’s,” Gloria laughed as she slowly descended the stairs from the veranda and kissed Carol’s cheek. She still had the most remarkable hearing. “That was something my Harry always used to say.”
“Really, Gloria, I wouldn’t have thought stuff like that would have been a problem for you guys.”
“He was blind, Carol, but he was still a man.”
Carol pretended to look shocked, but Gloria carried on as if she didn’t notice. “But you have nothing to worry about. Johnnie’s still madly in love with you, isn’t he, dear?” Gloria had a twinkle in her eye.
“Of course he is. And I’m still crazy about him—just don’t tell him.”
“I hope so, dear, because I put you two in the east room. I know it’s your favorite.”
“Thanks,” Carol took the old, brittle woman into her arms. “And are you okay, Gloria?”
“Of course I am. Why would you ask such a thing?” But she stayed in Carol’s arms for a little while longer.
“What are you two plotting?” Johnnie asked as he struggled up with their bags. “And don’t worry about me—I’ll just lug everybody’s stuff by myself.”
“And, well, you should,” Gloria reached up and kissed him, and hugged him as tight as her frail old arms would allow. “Your poor wife and children are here for a rest, so don’t be selfish and go around spoiling everything.
“So,” Gloria asked after Carol had gone to settle the kids into the new rooms over the boathouse. “Have you talked with your father?” She waited at the bottom step for Johnnie to take her by the elbow. She could have made it on her own, but she knew he liked to behave like a gentleman.
“Yes, and I hope he knows what he’s doing. It might be asking a bit too much.”
“Not of you, dear, surely?”
“No, I’m okay with it all, and I really want this to work out—for everyone. I was a bit torn up when I first heard, but it’s settled in now and, well, you know . . .”
“Yes, Johnnie, I do.” She smiled up at him and reached up to stroke his cheek. It always reminded her of Harry’s—at least his good side. “Being family means having to go through things like this, and we will all get to play our parts. Hopefully C.C.’s new love interest will provide enough distraction for your mother.”
She paused when they got to the top step and looked up at him for a moment as if she was about to say something else but changed her mind.
“What is it, Gloria? What other secrets are you keeping from me?”
“Far too many for what little time we have left. Now let’s go inside. I have some nice cold beer in the fridge. You might need some fortification before your mother gets here.”
Excerpt from The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy. Copyright © 2018 by The Story Plant. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.
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