About Ger Burke

Ger Burke is a novelist and short-story writer. She has had many literary successes both in print and radio.

On career break from her job as a teacher of English and History she completed a creative writing course at Holyoke College , Massachusetts .

She is a co-editor of Crannóg literary magazine and a former correspondent for MWR radio.

Her novel My Father's Lands was published in 2010.

 

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"In Braided Loves Gerardine Burke brings the same deftness to this contemporary story as she did to her historical novel.This is no fluffy, pink popular escapism but a hard-hitting story that is braided with clear-eyed insights. It pulls real punches and forces us to confront such themes as alcoholism, sexual repression and religious differences by taking us into a world that is real and vividly imagined.Here we witness Teresa Goldstein in all her flawed humanity, artfully captured, where denial is her driving force. Her crumbling life brings her into many dark places, where love and living one day at a time are the only things that can bring her through. As a result, it leaves an indelible impression on her readers' hearts."
Geraldine Mills

"Teresa Goldstein is in meltdown. Teacher, writer, wife, mother--roles she can't juggle anymore. Braided Loves is an unflinching account of her struggle to make a new life and escape the demons from her past and present . Fresh starts aren't easy. Ger Burke tackles her themes with energy and verve."  
Clairr O' Connor

"In clear, concise prose, Ger Burke maps the lonely route of Teresa Goldstein through family life, experienced by way of the lens of a bottle. By turns sad and insightful, Braided Loves is a thoroughly Irish novel packed with guilt, secrecy and hope." Nuala Ní Chonchúir, author of Mother America

... an honest and unflinching portrait of the damage that alcoholism can wreak on what is an already conflicted life.
The Irish Times

Braided Loves by Ger Burke

Title                                   Braided Loves

Author                                Ger Burke

Subject classification          Fiction

Format/extent                    140x216 mm, 280 pp

Publication date                September 2013

Price                                 €12-00 PB

ISBN                                 978-1-907017-21-6

                                      EXCERPT

She went over to the cassette player. There was an untidy stack of cassettes, which Esther had picked at random, lying beside it. Rita's movements were sluggish as she flipped through them. When she found one she liked she raised her head like a flamingo.

David didn't take his eyes off her as she stooped to fit Burt Bacharach's ‘Greatest Hits' into the player.

Granny Goldstein sat holding her untouched champagne.

“Let's dance.” Rita pressed the fast forward button with her index finger and as the tape whirred, still on her hunkers, she lazily swayed from side to side. The pose was curiously erotic, reminiscent of primitive women giving birth. When she found the song she wanted on the tape, she got up slowly, jiggled her shoulders, stroked her buttocks with the palms of her hands and slid into a dance.

I had seen Rita dance before, hundreds of times, but this was different. Her head tilted towards the ceiling leaving her neck exposed, her eyes were half closed and she hugged herself as her hips swayed to the music, slow undulations that seemed to pulsate through everyone in the room, including me.

Then she opened her eyes, turned towards David, and held out her hands to him while all the time lilting along with her chosen tune, I long to be, Close to you . ..

As if he were the puppet and she the puppeteer, David rose to his feet. On the odd occasion that David and I did an old-time waltz together, at a school do or some other event, he would place his right hand on my shoulder, mine would be on his waist, we would join our left hands together and off we'd go. Not so with Rita.

Gently she dislodged David's hand from her shoulder and placed it on her thigh. She did the same with his other hand. Then she wound her arms around his neck as tightly as she wound the balls of wool for her closely fitted jumpers and rested her head on his chest.

Neither Granny Goldstein nor I stirred.

Music and the movement of the dancers was the only sound.

And then Esther's voice pealed through the house like thunder. “Would you turn that bloody noise down? We cannot hear a word up here.”

Though I knew Esther was being a real brat, I could have kissed her. Her timing was impeccable! It wasn't that the music was loud, but she disliked Burt Bacharach's voice, hated when we listened to him.

As if her intrusion had flipped a switch, the tension in the room diffused. Rita unravelled herself from David. Granny Goldstein laughed and I joined in.

Rita regained her seat and swallowed a quarter glass of champagne in one gulp.

David said, “Rita, I'll drive you home.”

“You'll what?” I asked.

“I'll drive Rita home. Surely you can see that she is not fit to drive.”

“She only had a couple.”

“Like you had when you crashed into the motorbike, you mean.”

I felt the blood drain from my face. “That was uncalled for.”

Granny Goldstein and Rita were so engrossed in conversation, neither had heard the exchange.

David gritted his teeth. “Tess, Rita has lost her husband. You don't want her to lose her licence as well.”

“Talk about emotional claptrap. What has one to do with the other?”

“She needs us. We have to help as much as we can.”

I remembered finding my favourite plastic doll slit from head to sandals with a bread knife. My mother blamed a tinker's child who used to come begging but I had been sceptical. Rita had envied me the doll and she was the last one I had seen with it. That was thirty years ago. For Godsakes get a grip, I told myself.

But I was afraid for David. Afraid that he was not strong enough to resist Rita, afraid that David's love for me had died and would offer no protection, afraid that Rita, as I suspected she had with the doll, would play with him and then destroy him.

Then a stream of self-knowledge flooded through me. What I was thinking was balderdash. Rita had not touched that doll. My fear was for myself. I needed the approval and participation of my husband in my life to be happy. I felt threatened. I needed a scapegoat. Rita was it.

Next I would be putting the blame on her for seducing David and absolve him from all responsibility. I constantly fought against such stereotyping in other people's relationships. It was harder when it was your own.

David's eyes melted when they rested on Rita and my introspection changed to anger. Granny Goldstein was right. Men thought with their dicks. David's face always became ruddy when he was physically aroused. And now, to my jaundiced eye he appeared to be a bright red.

David suggested to Rita that she get ready to leave. She smiled and left to retrieve her coat.

Granny Goldstein went to the bathroom. I went to the drinks cabinet.