I am quite a fan of Roddy Doyle's work. Ever since he came to my attention in 1993 when he won the booker prize for 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha', I have made a point of seeking out all of his novels. Many people might know him as the author of 'The Commitments', which was part of his Barrytown Trilogy.
Doyle's work has an instant Irish feel about it, born as he was in Dublin. His writing style relies very much on the vocabulary of his characters, using local slang and sometimes coarse language to convey the personalities of the people he writes about.There is always an authenticity to his work, which often deals with the uglier side of society whilst projecting the human side of the people in his novels.
'A Greyhound Of A Girl' is the first of his novels for children that I have read. The style is typical Roddy Doyle, but the language is softened in line with the reader age it is aimed at. I am uncertain of the age group this is written for, but I found it absorbing enough to read as an adult, dealing as it does with dark themes such as death, aging and regret. Yet through it all, there is a tenderness and understanding of unconditional parental love and the eternal impact it can have on each generation.
The main character, Mary, is 12 and struggling to come to terms with the departure of her best friend (she moved house) and the inevital death of her seriously ill Grandmother. When the ghost of her Great-Grandmother appears to her, she comes to realise that change and loss is a part of life, and that it is the everyday things we take for granted that can sometimes matter most.
The narrative moves back and forth through time, each part highlighting one of the 4 main characters and their experience of life. At times funny, and other times moving, I found it to be both sensitive and insightful....and I would certainly recommend it both for older children and adults too.