A wealthy American is burdened by a recurrent dream about his native Ireland, a country that had long ceased to interest or trouble him. Convinced that the Irish are asking him for help, he equips his errant grand-nephew, Tom Blessman, with a generous bank account, and dispatches him to the old country to offer assistance. In Dublin, Tom is bewildered to find a city thronged with glossy, happening people and an economy in overdrive. The Irish apparently want for nothing. As Tom attempts to make sense of it all - and to resolve his own personal history - he falls in with a fascinating gallery of characters, some of them super-rich, some trying to make their way in this opportunistic new world, and others pinning their hopes and ambitions to art, literature and 'heritage projects'. Central to this alluring scene is the sprawling Kinane family, especially Eileen, the lost soul of the family, whose waif-like beauty Tom pursues through the city's bars, art galleries and parties, becoming ever more entangled with the dangerous Irish merry-go-round.
Teeming with brilliant characters, clamorous with the life of Dublin's pubs and cafes, and the atmosphere of its streets, "The Free And Easy" is a hugely entertaining and mordant take on Ireland past and present from one of Ireland's most stylish and interesting writers.
Anne Haverty has published two previous novels: One Day As A Tiger (winner of the Rooney Prize and shortlisted for the 1997 Whitbread First Novel Award) and The Far Side Of A Kiss (longlisted for the Booker Prize). Chatto also publishes her poetry. Born in Tipperary, she now lives in Dublin.