Trisha Rainsford’s first solo novel 'The Knack of Life' tells the tale of Séamus Considine, a 30-year-old schoolteacher living in rural Ireland. His life has already been turned upside down by his rather fickle wife, Jessica, who has left him for a wealthy architect and a new life in Dublin.
We first meet Séamus several months later, as he is struggling to come to terms with his wife's rejection. However, things are about to get a lot worse. He witnesses the murder of his best friend, Mattie, and his life and mind are thrown into complete turmoil.
Along with his gusty cousin, Cassandra, and a glamorous solicitor named Alison Chang, Séamus is drawn into a sinister and ruthless world which ultimately puts all their lives in danger.
The plot grabs your attention from the outset, and it is clear this is more than just about one man’s inner battle to discover 'the knack of life'. However, this is perhaps also its downfall. A cross between a form of chick-lit and a 'whodunit', the novel never quite manages to sit comfortably in either genre.
A somewhat immature character, Séamus's self-pitying and 'why me' approach can jar. Plus, Rainsford's attempts at light-heartedness (which often take place when the characters are in positions of utter hopelessness) can seem out of place and serve little purpose other than to make you cringe!
Having said that, with a murder to help solve, a wife to get over and a glimpse of new love and happiness, there is plenty for Séamus – and the reader – to think about. Add to that, a few skilfully-placed twists and turns and you have an enjoyable and easy read with all loose ends neatly tied up by the time you reach the last page.
But if you're hoping it will help you find the answers to the 'knack of life' – forget it!