I was surprised that Star Of The Sea was so little about the actual voyage of a ship from Ireland to New York during the potato famine, and rather an attempt at a literary pastiche to try and fill in a lack of nineteenth century Irish literature. For the pastiche to rely on the kind of melodramatic plotting of tales of the age is unsurprising (everyone is related in one way or another to everyone else in the book). But to spend its time trying to tell us repeatedly how clever it is seems a bit of a waste. See how the ruffian character enchants Charles Dickens with his thoroughly false tales of a pickpocket king called Fagin. By all means suggest that Dickens ripped off plenty of people with his literature, but Joseph O’Connor seems to be suggesting that his book is better than anything in Dickens, as Oliver Twist was ripped off of one of his characters. Very odd.

O’Connor’s big problem is in dressing the book up as a Victorian melodrama. Much less time is spent on actually providing the book with a plot which of itself would intrigue an audience either of its day or the current one, than playing literary games. The book constantly refers to a murder, teasing both the identity of the victim and the perpetrator at us. In the end the murder is a pointless afterthought, stripped both of its dramatic effect and relevance. Star Of The Sea was not what I expected, and its competency goes no way towards making it all that enjoyable.