The Liberty Tree is not just the story of Leo, but the story of Suzanne Harrington too, and at times it makes for some very difficult reading. Not difficult in the sense that the writing is bad, far from it, but difficult emotionally. This is a powerful, raw and startlingly honest story that has been bravely written.
Suzanne Harrington was an alcoholic, and a drug user. Her husband Leo liked to party, but knew his limits. Leo was a small, worried man, Suzanne was a larger than life, devil-may-care type of person. As Suzanne slowly disintegrated into the blurry life of the seasoned drinker, Leo disintegrated into himself. They produced two children, they tried to provide a happy home, despite finding themselves homeless, despite the drink and despite the fact that deep-down they didn't love each other.
If I'd met Suzanne Harrington years ago, when she was a drunken wreck, I probably wouldn't have liked her, she was rude, she was selfish and she cared little for anything else except drink. If I met Suzanne Harrington today, I'd want to hug her. She has exposed every little part of herself in this memoir, she doesn't try to justify her actions, she is honest - with herself and with her children.
The Liberty Tree is a wonderful, wonderful read - I laughed, I gasped and yes, I cried. I cried for Suzanne and for Leo and for their two children. The story is not all sobbing and sadness though, it is also warm and funny and touching and I grew to love all of the players in this amazing story.
Suzanne Harrington's children are lucky. Lucky to have a mother who has faced up to her failings, turned herself around and written this amazing account for them, something that they can treasure and be proud of for ever.
My thanks to Stacey from We Love This Book for providing my copy for review.
Suzanne Harrington has at various points been a journalist, TEFL teacher, a dole claimer, a backpacker, a youth worker, a painter, a wardrobe assistant, a washer-upper, a pen pusher, a house cleaner, a comic
bagger, a market stall holder and a cake maker. She is a columnist for the Irish Examiner and also writes fro the Irish Independent, Irish Times and the Guardian. She lives in Brighton.