The Last Will of Moira Leahy: A Novel

Image of The Last Will of Moira Leahy: A Novel
Release Date: 
August 2, 2010
Broadway Books
Reviewed by: 

“A well composed book is a magic carpet on which we are
wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.” —Caroline Gordon

The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a book that takes its readers to a different world. It is a novel of charm, of mystery, of things that cannot easily be explained. It is also a story of faith. Faith in fate (often hard to come by, often rationed) and in the journey one is supposed to take in this life, believing that the right lesson will be learned at the end.

This is a story of twins, something much in vogue in recent times. Therese Walsh’s story shares some of the mysticism of Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. It also paints twins as exotic creatures with shared language and thoughts, and animal-like instincts. Of course, the twins are not exactly alike.

The narrator-protagonist Maeve Leahy is the more cautious of the two—more cautious in love and in life. She is a musician, a saxophone player, but she’s not the musical prodigy that her piano-playing twin Moira is. It seems that Moira will lead the bigger life until tragedy strikes. Then Moira is frozen in place while Maeve is left to fend for, and find, herself.

After a period of depression, Maeve attends an auction where she spots a keris—an ancient and believed to be magical type of sword—similar to one she owned as a child. Maeve finds that she has a need to discover more about the centuries-old keris and this takes her on a trip to Rome, Italy. It is on this expedition that she learns more about herself, her twin, and life. She learns about life without fixed boundaries: “Not everything in life can be measured or accounted for by the five known senses.”

First-time author Walsh has a smooth style with enough uniqueness that the reader wants to keep reading. She stays ahead of the reader, too, as nothing predictable occurs. This reviewer had just one small issue and this was with the disconcerting movements between present time and prior events. It is not actually harmful in this case, but the baseline story is strong enough that it could well have been told chronologically.

This is one of those books where you delay getting to the last page, knowing the next book from this gifted author may not arrive for another year or two. Nevertheless, this is a trip that is—without a doubt—well worth taking.