The First Verse: A Novel

I hadn't planned on writing a review of this The First Verse. However, I think many librarians and book lovers would find it an interesting read. This is Barry McCrea's first novel. The story is set mostly in Dublin, Ireland with a brief jaunt to Paris at the end.  Books play an unusual role throughout the story.

Niall Lenihan, the main character, is attending his first year at Trinity College in Dublin where he is studying French and English literature. He is excited to be away from home and also coming to terms with his sexuality as a gay man. Niall meets an interesting couple at a party during the first month at college.

John and Sarah practice an ancient form of divination using books. They call this process "sortes." A person asks a question and then randomly chooses a book and reads a passage from it to find the answer. The answer can be found or inferred from the passage chosen. Additionally, they use a process of reading random passages aloud at the same time to find new meaning.

As you would expect, Niall gets caught up in John and Sarah's activities and joins them in their quest to find the meaning of the "sortes" and the mysterious cult-like group, the Pour Mieux Vivre.

I found the story a bit tedious to follow at times, because I don't have a working knowledge of Dublin. The author makes reference to many streets, buildings, and pubs. I still found this to be a good story and would recommended, though at times confusing because of the geographical references.   

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