This collection of four novellas centers on four generations in Kilroan, Ireland. O'Keeffe brings to life the characters from this farming town who love sitting with friends over cups of tea, working in their gardens, or meeting at the local watering hole. But these novellas are about more than that. They are about love and loss, and the ability of the Kilroan citizens to soldier on through various hardships. Despite the different time periods of each story, it seems that not much of Kilroan changes over the years.
The book opens with the title story, "The Hill Road," about young Jack Carmody, who tries to discover the truth about a tragedy that occurred in his Aunt Mary's life when she was young. Albert Cagney, her love, came back from World War I both a hero and a broken man. His actions in Kilroan end up changing her life, and the lives of his family, forever.
In "Her Black Mantilla," we learn the story of Alice Gilmartin, a shy teenager who wears a black mantilla, the only possession she owns that belonged to her deceased sister. Alice goes to Kilroan to work for the Tarpey family, and her life begins to parallel that of her late sister, who once found love in Kilroan.
"The Postman's Cottage," my favorite story in this collection, revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Eoin O'Rourke after a night out with his best friend, Tom Dillon. Years later, during a chance encounter between Eoin's nephew and Tom's wife, the fate of Eoin O'Rourke becomes clear.
In the final story, "That's Our Name," the body of a young woman is discovered, and the only people who know the truth about what happened to her are the ones being blamed for her murder - and the murderer himself.
O'Keeffe has a unique way with dialogue, which takes some getting used to, and the Irish slang can be a bit off-putting to American readers. Still, these qualities just add more authenticity to the stories. The Hill Road is a beautiful collection and well worth reading.