There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F. Ross #BookReview #BlogTour

 


Danny Garvey was a sixteen-year old footballing prodigy. Professional clubs clamoured to sign him, and a glittering future beckoned.

And yet, his early promise remained unfulfilled, and Danny is back home in the tiny village of Barshaw to manage the struggling junior team he once played for. What’s more, he’s hiding a secret about a tragic night, thirteen years earlier, that changed the course of several lives. There’s only one Danny Garvey, they once chanted … and that’s the problem.

 A story of irrational hopes and fevered dreams – of unstoppable passion and unflinching commitment in the face of defeat – There’s Only One Danny Garvey is, above all, an unforgettable tale about finding hope and redemption in the most unexpected of places.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for There's Only One Danny Garvey today. Many thanks to David F. Ross, Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Thirty or so years ago, football was my religion; like Danny Garvey, I scrupulously updated the Shoot! cardboard league ladder that was pinned to my bedroom door. I also followed my local team, week in and week out, standing on the touchline in rain, hail and snow with my inflatable rhino, 'Rocky'! Although I was in Dorset and There's Only One Danny Garvey is set in Ayrshire, my memories of watching grassroots football during the 1990s came flooding back but David F. Ross's novel is about far more than the highs and lows that come with being a supporter and this raw, heartbreaking story is an unforgettable exploration of a local community desperate for something to hope for and a man who can't seem to escape his past.
There isn't much going for the village of Barshaw, the closure of the pits left men reliant on the pub, church or football club for their sense of community but Barshaw Bridge are a team in trouble on and off the pitch and when Danny Garvey reluctantly agrees to return to manage them, he realises expectations are low. Danny was once one of the lucky ones who left Barshaw; a prodigious talent, it seemed that a bright career at Aberdeen and beyond beckoned him. His dreams were destroyed by a devastating injury and though he has recently tasted limited success as manager of Arbroath's youth team, he is coming home as a failure. 
As he embarks on his ambitious bid to at least prevent Barshaw Bridge sliding even further down the divisions, the passion and the sense of almost tribalistic identity experienced by fans is evoked with an authentic intensity that should capture the imaginations of even those who usually have no interest in the game. The team is about more that results - it offers hope and a feeling of belonging to those who have lost it - but even as Danny appears to be on the brink of achieving the almost impossible, it becomes apparent that his return brings with it memories of a troubled past that he's never quite managed to run away from.
Although most of the novel is told through Danny's first person narrative, there are several scenes which switch back and forth between his perspective and that of other characters; Higgy, the man responsible for bringing him home and who has clearly taken on the role of his father figure for much of his life, his troubled brother, Raymond and his estranged girlfriend, Nancy and arguably most touchingly, their complex young son, Damo. It's through their words that we first begin to suspect Danny may be an unreliable narrator. He quickly becomes central to the dreams of the village but it grows patently obvious that being 'the only Danny Garvey' means that he is actually desperately lonely and has been for most of his life. He has a complicated relationship with Raymond and their dying mother, Libby and his recollections of his childhood are of violence and neglect. However, there are some achingly poignant scenes between him and his mum with some tragic revelations that are devastating to discover and yet might offer some solace too. Meanwhile, he grows increasingly close to Nancy and his determination to better understand and help Damo suggests he is able to identify more with the struggles the obviously autistic boy has fitting in than would perhaps be expected of the local football star. 
The gritty, unsentimental dialogue encapsulates the hard-headed realism of this community and is laced throughout with the sharp wit and black humour that is so often found in areas which are frequently dismissed as being irrevocably deprived but are also the sort of places where somebody will put in a good word for an alcoholic mate - or where a damaged, complicated man can come home and be offered the chance of hope and redemption. Is there really only one Danny Garvey? Perhaps, but as becomes heartbreakingly evident when his life begins to unravel as past and present collide, there isn't one true version of who he really is, and this beautifully nuanced, insightful, outstanding novel understands that whether a person is a hero or villain is often a matter of who is telling the story. Unflinchingly honest with flawed, difficult characters who have nevertheless taken up residence in my heart, There's Only One Danny Garvey is absolutely unmissable. 

There's Only One Danny Garvey is published by Orenda Books. Purchasing links can be found here but please support independent bookstores if possible, either by ordering directly or through bookshop.org.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.


About the Author
David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.

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