Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Holy Pictures - Clare Boylan

Set in Dublin in the 1920's this is Nan and Mary Cantwell's story. Nan, 14, and living with adolescence, and Mary, loving the cat, the hen, the hedgehog and Nellie the maid unconditionally, watch their parents' life. Father, who runs a corset factory, and acts like the Indian Army officer he once was, the the bully he still is; Mother, who likes to smoke and read mysteries are both people the girls don't really understand. Father takes in waifs and strays for short periods of time to help them "make a new start", and Nellie does very little except prepare food and leave the washing up for the girls to do when she goes home at night. And then, one day, an exotic visitor arrives on the doorstep and it isn't long before she is occupying the marital bedroom, with Father in the spare room, Mother in the girls' room, and the girls sleeping in the kitchen. Life is starting to unravel.....
Clare Boylan has a beautiful way with words. You can hear the voices, see the clothes, understand the undercurrents. I enjoyed this very much, and recommend it.