This is the twelfth book I have read by this author.
So, to use one of Hemingway's common words, I'm a bit of an aficionado.
Previously, my favourite was called An Answer From Limbo.
And a close second was The Luck of Ginger Coffey.
But The Mangan Inheritance is the new best.
I love Brian Moore's writing. My next comment is so cliche, but "I could not put it down." I read it in a whirlwind of expectancy and anticipation.
Originally published in 1979, this is the story of James Mangan, struggling and semi-successful poet -- married to a famous Hollywood movie star. She dominates his life. When he walks into a room, people wonder where SHE is! And I won't reveal what happens to their marriage, but suffice it to say that Mangan is rather suddenly afforded the possibility of seeking out his family heritage in Ireland.
He discovers a daguerreotype of what he believes to be a distant relative -- a man who was also a poet, and resembles him in an uncanny manner. The likeness is nothing short of a doppelganger scenario. Mangan travels to Ireland, and this is where the novel really takes off.
[Not since reading Donna Tarrt's The Secret History has a novel so captivated my interest.]
So…. Mangan in Ireland meets some very interesting [ahem!] relatives. One, the young vivacious Kathleen, he becomes very sexually involved with. [Sorry for ending with a preposition there, but how else does one say it?]
Some of the bodice-ripping in the book may bother some readers, but perhaps to my shame, it did not bother me. Mangan is sincere, at least. He would like to take Kathleen away from the squalor of her rural nothingness steeped in alcoholism and bad memories -- take her back to New York where they can live on his fortune. His "inheritance".
But that very word in the title is the key to the entire book. When Mangan finds out more about his actual family's history he is disillusioned. He reconsiders his initial infatuation [and connection] with the ancient poet, and even with poetry itself.
A more current and pressing need calls him back to his native Montreal -- where he is forced to make some hard decisions that lie just beyond the last page of the book.
This thing is a gem, really. One of those books I call a "sleeper" -- meaning, unless someone recommends it to you, you will probably not ever run across it, in your travels.
So, let me be that person.
The thing was out of print, but New York Review Books Classics has recently re-issued it, HERE.
So --- you know what to do!