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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
In her outstanding memoir, Castles and Ruins: Unraveling Family Mysteries & Literary Legacy in the Irish Countryside, Rue Matthiessen documents her return to Ireland, intertwining her experiences with reflections on her childhood and the dynamics within her family. Matthiessen was inspired to return to Ireland by her mother’s literary work, Annaghkeen, whose name is derived from Annaghkeen Castle which stood across their home in Ireland. Her journey with her family through the places from her childhood rekindles her memories. She explores her years in Galway and New York, chronicling her parents’ relationship and the turbulent years that followed her earlier childhood. She incorporates her mother’s writing and examines her parents’ written work in the memoir.
In the intimate and poignant memoir, Castles and Ruins, Rue Matthiessen recounts her difficult upbringing and follows her parents’ personal lives and professional achievements. Matthiessen’s powerful storytelling vividly portrays her childhood and coming-of-age years and evokes events and scenes that impacted her family. She takes readers on a heartfelt journey, beautifully recreating her experiences and their effect on her. I appreciated her brave and honest examinations of her parents, including their literary accomplishments and the dysfunction that existed in her family. Matthiessen writes with impeccable clarity. The backdrops that frame her experiences and the people she includes in the memoir are comprehensively described. Her trip to Ireland includes fascinating information about the places her family visits. I found her reflections on the memories she covered and the loss she endured thought-provoking and moving.