The sub title to this amazing story is " the Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman."
Capturing the same cold, soggy, dismal tone as Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes"
Nuala O'Faolain revisits her childhood growing up in a poverty stricken family of 9 children in the 1940's. Her father was mostly absent, her mother an alcoholic, Nuala was left to fend for herself in a culture and era where women were abused and ignored, their life goal only to be married and thus not be alone in such a hostile environment. The institutions that could have saved her, in fact perpetrated much of the abuse; the Catholic church, the Irish School System, and even the government that was torn between the North and South.
The author finds her escape in literature at an early age and uses it throughout her life to keep her fed emotionally, spiritually and physically. Yet it is her deep connection to literary works that I found the biggest barrier in reading her story.
Authors she loved, many of whom she knew personally, monumental epics, poetry, even her deep abide for classical music kept me at arms length. It was like name dropping only I didn't know the names or their importance to the world. As a producer for the BBC she traveled the world, but I knew little of the places she visited that moved and inspired her. I felt myself skimming over the paragraphs filled with too much detail of things I didn't understand.
The style of her writing was also at times difficult to read. Long meandering paragraphs, followed by one or two word sentences made it difficult to capture the flow of her beautiful Irish lilt. I wanted to scream at times with frustration..."translate please!"
Yet there was something about her woeful tale, her insight gained through such a personal journey, the inherent beauty of her words that kept me going. People write their memoirs for many different reasons, but there is usually a cathartic effect that takes place as they struggle to understand their own life. For Nuala O'Faolain her journey led her to forgiveness and love. In the last few chapters she fully comprehends how her "accidental memoir" needed to be told. She was not alone in the world.
Difficult at times, but definitely worth the effort. Excellent discussion book!!!!
She deserves a Rock, Chalk, Jay (but not the Hawk...sorry Nuala. It just didn't make my final cut).