Cuckoo Club


By Cairns Clery


ISBN: 978-1-905610-10-5
Published: 2006
Pages: 439
Key Themes: grief, suicidal thoughts, gender-dysphoria, schizophrenia, self-harm, eating disorders, alcoholism


Cuckoo Club is a compelling, epic novel spanning twenty years in the lives of five people with mental and physical health issues. In a readable and accessible manner it addresses grief and suicidality, not to mention anorexia, self-harm, gender-dysphoria, schizophrenia and alcoholism! Despite this apparently grim subject matter Cuckoo Club is life-affirming, joyful and funny. It presents strange and extreme people as normal and everyday and the normal and everyday as often strange and extreme. Above all Cuckoo Club tells an immediately involving story about people you will want to know more about.

About the Author

Cairns Clery is a registered psychotherapist who has written two previous novels and has published papers and chapters in professional journals and books. Cairns was once admitted as an in-patient to a psychiatric hospital and treated with ECT. Cairns has felt lucky and privileged ever since trying to help other people become a little less troubled. Still uncertain about what exactly makes us who we are, Cairns long ago decided it is really relationships with others, with everyone, but with family and friends in particular, which gives a person her or his truest sense of self.

Book Extract

Grainne OíRiordan got home at ten p.m. She felt exhausted and tired. It had been a long hard shift and when it was done she had felt no desire whatsoever to return to a house which she was sure would feel as good as empty now Lucie was gone.

Two years ago when Lucie had kindly helped her up off the soggy grass to sit down on a bench after she had slipped on some mud while out walking in the park, she wouldnít have dreamed that the pale slender boy with the shaven head and the big frightened eyes who told her he had been sleeping rough in the bushes for the previous two nights, would have ended up staying with her and Ron for so long, and eventually leave with an auburn mop of crimped hair looking even better in her clothes than she did, for godís sake! She could not have imagined that the simple offer to put him up for a few nights would have led to a friendship that had come to mean so much to her.

At that time she had only been living with Ron for four months. He had changed so much too. Back then when she was twenty two and Ron twenty seven he had seemed so glamorous with his dark hair and black beard, his leathers and his Triumph motorcycle. He hadnít had a paunch then either. She used to love riding pillion behind him on sunny summer Sundays, huddling down away from the wind, her cheek against his back and believing he was the kind of man and this was kind of life she had always dreamed of back in Belfast where everything was smaller and wetter and colder. It just wasnít fair or funny how adolescent dreams could trick you into embracing a reality which actually turned out to be worse than the one you were trying to get away from.

As she struggled to put her key in the front door, she dropped the plastic bag containing the chips and doner kebabs she had bought for Ron and herself. She cursed, feeling almost hysterical. She hadnít had a period for two weeks. Earlier, in the middle of the day on her way to work she had stopped off at a chemist for a pregnancy testing kit. Over the next eight hours she had hardly been able to concentrate on the patients at work at all, bustling about mechanically in a thick soup of dread. No-one had seemed to notice. They were all too busy. One or two of the patients had remarked she wasnít her usual cheery self today, but she attended to their clinical needs perfectly and politely, had not let herself be drawn into responding. She had had to resist the urge to take the test there and then for fear of a result that might have left her feeling unable to cope. She hadnít wanted to let her two colleagues down, one of whom was still a student. The ward was too full and too demanding for her to go off sick in the middle of a shift.

But she didnít want Ronís baby and she just couldnít have an abortion.

It was as simple as that. In principle and in the pub she was right on and progressive about a womanís right to choose, but in practice she felt that for her at least, there was no choice at all. To have an abortion would not be against her moral ideology in any way, despite her Catholic upbringing, but it would be to go against all her own natural feelings. You just didnít hack into your body because you didnít like how it was or what it was doing, especially when it involved another little human being.

She let herself in, hoping Ron wasnít going to pester her for attention. He had become more and more strange recently. And even his sexual ardour which had used to be fairly incessant had dropped off over the last few weeks. But damn, damn, damn, the last time they had had sex together they had both been drunk and stoned, didnít remember to use contraception until it was too late. And it had happened right in the middle of her cycle. Since then there hadnít been even a hint of a period coming on, either physically or emotionally. Usually, almost without fail, she would find herself moody and irritable for a day or so just before it was due. But now she was two weeks late and Ė nothing.

She took her coat off and hung it on the hook behind the door. Tatty, and too small. Even if she wasnít going to turn out to be pregnant. She and Ron ate crap food all the time and drank too much beer. She was a size sixteen if she was really honest. She had bought the coat two years ago when she was still a twelve.

ĎUh, hello Grainne,í Ron called from the front room having heard her come in despite having the tele on loud enough to split her headache in two. ĎLukey-Lucieís gone. Off to his or her new life.í

ĎHer new life. And her name is Lucille.í Grainne shouted back, and leaving the chips and kebabs still in their plastic bag on the kitchen table, she ran upstairs with the pregnancy testing kit hidden in her handbag.

ĎDinnerís on the table,í she shouted down to him, Ďcan you keep mine warm for me. Iíll be down in ten minutes.'

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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 01 November, 2006.

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