A Year of Orenda – The Man Who Loved Islands by David F. Ross

Today, as part of our Year of Orenda celebration I am delighted to share my thoughts on the final book in the Disco Days trilogy from David F. Ross. I have loved catching up with this series and this book brings us full circle, reuniting us with the heroes from book one in a funny, humorous and sometimes poignant story that is a fitting end to the tale. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Amazon

About the Book

The Disco Boys and The Band are back… In the early 80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive…and forget. With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival The Big Bang on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island?

Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loves Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland’s finest new voices.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books | Hive

My Thoughts

Well this is one truly fitting way to say goodbye to the Disco Days series, bringing readers full circle and reuniting us with the pair who first brought us the hilarity of the Heatwave Disco. Well, I say pair, but is is important to acknowledge that the great friendship of Bobby and Joey is not what it was and their one time ‘bouncer’ Hamish is now firmly a part of Bobby’s reinvented life.

The book leads us from that fateful summer in which Bobby’s life changed, and charts his fame and fortunes as a club DJ in Ibiza. Joey, on the other hand, remains in Scotland as their friendship falls apart, and follows a very different path – university, marriage, family … It is two very different people that we meet as we re-enter their worlds. Both find success in their own way, and yet both successes are marred by events from their past, something we only discover as we read onward. There are events that happen, events which are both heartbreaking but also contain a certain amount of that dry humour that permeates David Ross’s writing, so much so that while you may be shocked it could happen you will also have a wry smile on your face realising that it is almost what you would expect of the characters.

What I loved about this book is the way in which the author captures the lives of the two men – so very different and yet in many ways exactly the same – building it into two settings which couldn’t be more different. Bobby Cassidy follows his love of music, his understanding of what works, what makes people happy, and uses it to build a new life, fully supported by Hamish. But as much as he achieves his goals, a lavish lifestyle, crating two club classics, including a remix of the Miraculous Vespas only hit record, you never get the feeling that he is really happy, and that melancholy seeps through the narrative, beating back the haze created by the island heat. That sense that the perfect life is anything but is always there and as he approaches a crux point in his life the sense of depression build too, the emotional tone pitched perfectly. Whether you feel any empathy towards Bobby … well that will be a very personal journey.

Joey, or Joseph as we will know him in this book, takes a very different course and most of his story is told in the present day, looking back to his past as he recounts his story to his daughter. He is as life weary as Bobby but in very different ways. Now a businessman chasing down leads and opportunities in the far-east, his trip down memory lane allows us to fill in the gaps in his past as well as catch up with some of the other key characters from the first book in the series, The Last Days of Disco, namely Bobby’s sister, Hettie, and brother, Gary. Joey is a far more sensitive soul – jaded, without doubt – but now able to connect with his feelings in a way that Bobby never could. We are shown his compassion and it makes him even more likeable. Where the scenes between Bobby and Hamish are laced with humour, Joey’s chapters provide the emotional heart of the piece, none more so than when we reunite with Gary.

Once again it is Gary’s words that will really bring the lump to your throat. If you have read book one then you will know what happened and perhaps understand the impact that could have on him. Things happen in this book that I won’t go into here, but it changes him once more and it changes those around him. It also leads to the events that make up the final third of the book, the big event that will both make you laugh and also smile as it is classic Bobby/Joey territory and if I mention that good old Max Mojo has a hand in events then I think you will already have an idea where this is heading.

As the final book in the series it draws all the loose threads together perfectly, completing people’s stories and giving readers a brilliant blend of humour and emotion, all backed up by a classic soundtrack as all the books before it. I cannot recommend this series enough, although a warning for those less in tune with the Scottish vernacular – you may need the occasional use of a translator. Dark humour meets great characters and such varied but perfectly drawn settings. The writing is superb, so evocative and authentic, capturing that real feel of the eighties and nineties and the evolution of the club scene, but also representing a very recognisable picture of life in the UK during this same period. You will live every moment of life with this memorable troup and turn the final page with a huge smile on your face. A thoroughly satisfying conclusion.

About the Author

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over thirty years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP. Since the publication of his debut novel The Last Days of Disco, he’s become something of a media celebrity in Scotland, with a signed copy of his book going for £500 at auction, and the German edition has not left the bestseller list since it was published.

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Books by David F. Ross

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