The title is obviously meant ironically: what the children in The Glorious Heresies are gifted by their parents is far from glorious. Poverty, genes for addiction, a criminal environment and spineless characters all combined with wrong decisions, personal or society wise. One might say that the strict Irish Catholic environment can be held responsible for unmarried Maureen having to have her son raised by her parents (and be thankful about not being sent to one of the infamous Magdalena institutions (for those who do not know of this lovely Catholic invention: watch Philomena), for her son Jimmy to become a notorious criminal because of his loveless youth who makes his old pall Tony get rid of the body of the junk killed by his recently returned mother, which makes the junk’s girl friend Georgie go and ask questions into his disappearance which leads her to the house of her minor dealer Ryan, who happens to be Tony’s oldest son, which in its turn makes Jimmy decide to protect his mother and his reputation as a fearless criminal even more. Ryan naturally has become a dealer because his addicted mother died too young and he was beaten regularly by his spineless addicted father. The only positive thing in Ryan’s life is his girlfriend Karine and he quite easily manages to endanger this one positive relationship as well.
Are you still with me? After having given it some thought I realized that The Glorious Heresies is an overambitious novel being thwarted by too many good intentions and too many platitudes. Too many complications, high-strung phrases, not enough moments to wind down and too many characters that remain mere platitudes, their development merely strings along with the complications. Even the fact that at the end Maureen starts to take care of Ryan in order to make up for past mistakes is another platitude. A lovely one but still. I truly believe that McInerney has all the makings of a good writer, she just has to learn to tone it down.