Four siblings. Forty years. The very first Irish Pope?
A big-hearted, funny, sad, dazzlingly ambitious novel about the messiness of love, family and belief – and how nothing ever turns out quite how we plan.
In 1979 Bridget Doyle has one goal left in life: for her family to produce the very first Irish pope. Fired up by John Paul II’s appearance in Phoenix Park, she sprinkles Papal-blessed holy water on the marital bed of her son and daughter-in-law, and leaves them to get on with things. But nine months later her daughter-in-law dies in childbirth and Granny Doyle is left bringing up four grandchildren: five-year-old Peg, and baby triplets Damien, Rosie and John Paul.
Thirty years later, it seems unlikely any of Granny Doyle’s grandchildren are going to fulfil her hopes. Damien is trying to work up the courage to tell her that he’s gay. Rosie is a dreamy blue-haired rebel who wants to save the planet and has little time for popes. And irrepressible John Paul is a chancer and a charmer and the undisputed apple of his Granny’s eye – but he’s not exactly what you’d call Pontiff material.
None of the triplets have much contact with their big sister Peg, who lives over 3,000 miles away in New York City, and has been a forbidden topic of conversation ever since she ran away from home as a teenager. But that’s about to change.
‘Well observed, original, gripping, funny and poignant. This novel is a classic’
Jo Spain, author of The Confession
‘Raucously funny and genuinely moving. It’s the depth of the characters which makes Future Popes of Ireland such a compelling, beautifully conceived family saga; the Doyles are going to stay with me as insistently as the people I’ve met in real life. A humane, deeply witty and intelligent exploration of faith and its contradictions, and a world which combines the quotidian and the metaphysical, in which every object – from a bottle of water to a smartphone to a scratchcard – could be a holy relic. A joy from start to finish’
Luke Kennard, author of The Transition
‘I really enjoyed this story of four siblings who grow up, discover who they are, fall apart, and somehow, against all odds in an Ireland that is itself struggling to emerge from its mired past, find a way back to each other. This is salutary, compassionate, concerned and oh-so-human storytelling at its very best’
Alan McMonagle, author of Ithaca
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