Friday, 25 October 2019

Book Club Book Review: Akin by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue

A new novel from the “literary prowess” (Quill & Quire) of Emma Donoghue, the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of The Wonder and Room.

Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 29th September 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace

Noah is a retired New Yorker, who takes his 11-year-old great-nephew, Michael, on a trip to the stunning seaside and cosmopolitan city of Nice, France. The two have almost nothing in common, apart from Noah being widowed and Michael effectively an orphan. The clashes between old age and youth, antiquity and modernity are striking, even over what they do and what they eat. Michael speaks with the street-smart language of his age while Noah talks like a professor of chemistry, and they often can’t understand each other.

I really enjoyed this story of an inter-generational friendship, of sorts.

Retired Professor Noah Selvaggio’s wife passed away nine years ago. They had never had children preferring to dedicate themselves to their careers. He found himself now just going through the paces until it was his time. Noah decides to take a last trip, an eightieth birthday treat, back to his birthplace of Nice, France.

A call out of the blue lands him as temporary custodian of his great-nephew Michael. Left with no other choice Noah takes Michael on his trip. In his luggage he has an envelope of mysterious photographs Noah has found in his late mother’s belongings.

The story unfolds with 80 year old Noah trying to connect with 11 year old Michael who is in turn withdrawn and reticent, more interested in his online games than the site. Noah being a retired teacher used every opportunity to impart his vast knowledge of just about everything on to Michael. Some things were fascinating although sometimes I found myself, like Michael, just wanting him to stop talking. Michael was also able to teach Noah a thing or two about technology and searching for clues through the internet.  Solving the mystery of the photos helped to bring the two together for a common cause.

I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding Noah’s mother during WWII and how the clues slowly unfolded. I felt Noah and Michael’s interactions were well written and believable with both characters getting on my nerves at times.

Overall Akin is an endearing story of family with a compelling mystery as a side story.

This review is from the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
@beautyandlacemag #beautyandlacebookclub


  My rating   4/5

Photo: Biblio Images
Born in Dublin in 1969 and now living in Canada, Emma Donoghue is a writer of fiction, history, and drama for radio, stage and screen. She is best known for her international bestseller Room, shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes and winner of the Commonwealth (Canada/Caribbean), Rogers Writers' Trust and Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Awards. Her fiction ranges from contemporary (Stir-fry, Hood, Landing, Touchy Subjects) to historical (Slammerkin, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter, Astray) to fairy-tale (Kissing the Witch).



  1. How did I miss this?? I had no idea Emma Donoghue had a new book out! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention, this one sounds really interesting - I've developed a bit of an obsession with older protagonists and narrators of late, it seems, so this one would be perfect to add to the list 😁

    1. I do hope you enjoy it Sheree. I loved the mystery and the few red herrings that were thrown in.