An Embarassment of Riches

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When Ursula Barnett and her husband Jed win the Irish lottery, they think their troubles are over. But they are just beginning.

Ursula coerces her Yank husband to retire in her hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland, hoping to atone for her youthful sins as a collaborator with the IRA in the 1970s. At the first sniff of Ursula’s lotto win, however, her chronically greedy sister-in-law Fionnuala Flood rallies the family against Ursula.

Fionnuala’s life is a misery. She is married to a boozing fish-packing plant worker and raising seven seedy hooligans, from a convict son to an eight-year-old devil-daughter who will resort to desperate measures to secure the perfect Holy Communion gown. Between two part-time jobs, Fionnuala still finds the energy to put into motion plans which pit husbands against wives, daughters against mothers, the lawless against the law and Fionnuala against anyone fool enough to cross her path.

Family saga and black comedy, love story and courtroom drama, An Embarrassment of Riches will take you on a journey to Northern Ireland and beyond, where Protestants and Catholics wage battle daily, and where crossing family with finance leads to heartache and hilarity, passion and tragedy.



“The Irish family at the heart of this hilarious novel is so tawdry and despicable, it’s a wonder they don’t kill off each other in the first few pages. Set in Northern Ireland, the central figure is Ursula, whose husband had won the lottery and has since gambled away much of the winnings. Ursula’s new (and fading) riches have strained many of her personal relationships, particularly with her sister-in-law, Fionnuala, a first-rate villain who concocts get-rich-quick schemes based on the misery of others, while her children find themselves in messes all their own. A young daughter trying to raise money for a church dress sells her brother’s “disco candy” (Ecstasy) for less than street value while her drug dealer brother loses customers when word gets out he’s a police snitch. Another daughter’s plans to con her boss into taking responsibility for her pregnancy leads to a series of riotous plot twists. Meanwhile, Ursula is vilified and put on trial for a crime she didn’t commit. Ursula is no saint; she has a dark past that haunts her and is prone to angry outbursts. Despite it all, it’s easy to sympathize with Ursula, just as it’s easy to like all the characters right up until they engage in their next heinous act. The Irish dialect and sprawling cast make the first few chapters difficult to read, but once the vulgarity and shenanigans set in, the novel is as absorbing as it is hysterical.”

Publishers Weekly

“A F*cking Masterpiece!”

Colin Quinn, Comedian, SNL, Tough Crowd

“Gerald Hansen’s writing is smooth and appealing. With a cast of incredibly amusing, if not always charming characters, this book feels like a cross between a roller-coaster and a carousel. The plot moves on very quickly and it would be impossible not to get drawn in. While wildly amusing, this tale should also make you think of some important life issues, so I’d consider the time spent reading “An Embarrassment of Riches” well spent.”

Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson

“This is indeed a family saga with a good dose of black humour.
Many parts of this book are absolutely hilarious, especially the episodes in the courtrooms. The storyline is addictive and the characters are so interesting with moments of laugh-out-loud. It is fast-moving and never leaves the reader veering off to boredom. I can guarantee lots of laughs. A book that is bound to be a hit with most.”

Jessica Roberts,

“An Embarrassment of Riches is a true black comedy, filled with richly-drawn characters that are both larger than life and small minded at the same time. Like most great literary comedies (A Confederacy of Dunces, anyone?), the real charm and power lies in the interactions between rich, larger than life characters. An Embarrassment of Riches is no exception…The last 50 pages of this book are classic, I can’t-stop-reading literature…you will laugh until your sides hurt.”

Jonathan Henderson,

“This story that Gerald Hansen has set up for his readers is definitely not a snore. His use of language, the drama he creates, and the personalities of his characters allows the reader to get swept up in this story of family mayhem. What helps make this story so real, and allows you to imagine yourself in Northern Ireland is the dialect these characters use. For the first chapter I was convinced I would be unable to comprehend this story, but you find yourself getting used to it, and even picking up a few phrases to use!
This is an excellent novel for anyone to enjoy and to read again and again. It gets you away from your everyday problems and makes you realize that maybe your family really isn’t so bad in comparison to the family that is portrayed in this story. Who knows, you may even learn some fantastic phrases that you can shock your friends with!”

Ashley Merrill, Front Street Reviews

“…The Flood clan considers Ursula to be their private ATM with unlimited withdrawals. Her telling the family “no more” sets in motion a massive set of circumstances that careen around Derry with the grace of a drunken and horny bull.
…If you’re into narratives of dysfunctional families or interested in modern life in Northern Ireland, you’ll find his book worth while. There is a lot of black humor, and some insights into the “Troubles” of Northern Ireland.
I found it well done, and clearly the work of a craftsman. If you’re interested in modern “literary” fiction, Hansen’s An Embarrassment of Riches is a worthwhile read.”

Chris Gerrib, PodPeople

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