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One by One in the Darkness [Paperback]

Deirdre Madden
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

One by One in the Darkness follows a week in the lives of three sisters shortly before the start of the IRA ceasefire in 1994, undercut with the story of their childhood in Northern Ireland of the 1960s and 1970s. The history of both a family and a society, One by One in the Darkness confirms Deirdre Madden's reputation as one of Irish fiction's most outstanding talents.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 057129880X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571298808
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 411,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A stunning novel from the acclaimed twice Orange-shortlisted author.

About the Author

Deirdre Madden is from Toomebridge, Co. Antrim. Her novels include The Birds of Innocent Wood, Nothing is Black, One by One in the Darkness, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and Authenticity. Her novel Molly Fox's Birthday also was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She teaches at Trinity College, Dublin and is a member of the Irish Arts Academy Aosdana.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Beautifully Written 20 Feb 2014
Deirdre Madden's short, yet powerful novel 'One by One in the Darkness' follows the story of three sisters: Helen, Kate and Sally, who have been brought up in the Roman Catholic faith in Northern Ireland. Focusing on a week in the sisters' lives shortly before the IRA ceasefire in 1994, and after their father has been killed, the author then moves backwards and forwards in time, as she relates the story of the girls' childhoods during the 1960s and 1970s. This novel, although focusing on one family, is not just their story, but the story of many, who live, work and love in the midst of Ireland's troubles. Helen, the eldest sister, and the first of her family to go to university, becomes a solicitor specialising in terrorist cases; she lives and works in Belfast and throws herself into her work to the detriment of her personal life. Kate, the middle daughter, bright, stylish and beautiful, leaves Ireland to live and work in London as a journalist, changing the spelling of her name to Cate, in order not to sound too Irish; and then there is the youngest sister, Sally, who stays on in the family home in the country and is a strong and constant source of support to her widowed mother.

As we read of the girls' childhood years, where the author writes evocatively of the old family house and with an evident and deep affection for the Irish landscape, we are reminded of how what happens in our formative years can significantly affect the way we approach life and how we relate to people in later life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ambiguities of the Irish Life 24 July 2014
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book takes place over the space of a week in the life of a family, Emily the mother, and three daughters, Helen, Cate and Sally. They live just outside Belfast on a small farm and Cate has come home from her London job to give her mother and sisters news that she knows will be unwelcome.

The book dips frequently into the past, the lyrical beauty of their surroundings and their happy childhood on the farm from which they wring a meagre living. Helen now lives in Belfast coming home every weekend. She is a lawyer, currently finding it hard to hide her contempt for the man she is pledged to defend in court. They are Catholics, and their father's brother Brian has been involved peripherally in the IRA. Their father, Charlie, was killed by Loyalists while at Brian's house. Brian was the intended victim. Cate has found it impossible to visit her Uncle's house since the killing.

The family background is delivered in episodes by one or the other of the sisters - there is one unpleasant and one loveable grandmother, along with the memories of their wonderful father. The younger brother, Peter, has some mental problems, but lives with his brother Brian and Lucy, Brian's wife, and their three children, and is cared for at home during his difficult episodes. The girls' schooling is well depicted - Helen the workhorse, Cate the princess, with her clothes and make-up, easily passing exams, and Sally, the youngest, who became a schoolteacher not exactly by choice. No one is untouched by the harrowing events of the Troubles. Yet it the book also shows the resilience of Ireland's Catholic community, even as they are face to face with the stark realities.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Maddeningly poor book. 19 Oct 2013
The story is set during one week shortly before the IRA ceasefire in 1994. Three sisters, Helen, Sally and Kate relate and recollect their childhood during the 1960s and 1970s at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland. The catalyst for these recollections is the return of the eldest sister Kate, (who now refers to herself as Cate), who abruptly leaves London where she works as a successful journalist for a glossy magazine as an event has forced her to re-evaluate her life.
The book's chapters alternate between the return of Cate to Ireland and the three sister's recollections of their childhood. Cate's life changing event is not that difficult to guess and strangely it is revealed rather early on the book so breaking any sense of tension regarding that particular plotline.
The sister's childhood is almost idyllic. Their parents own a farm an hour's drive from Derry. This distance from the cities and towns of Northern Ireland keeps the horrors of the troubles at arm's length as it also must have felt to those on mainland Britain. The girl's only connection to the Irish troubles was during their visits to towns like Antrim where they would witness preparations for the Orange Walk; Union Jacks hung out of windows, Orange arches with symbols of a compass, a set square and ladder painted brightly on them.

"And yet for all this they knew that their lives, so complete in themselves were off centre in relation to the society beyond those fields and houses"

However, this insular life soon changed when the British troops moved into Northern Ireland in 1969. With British Army checkpoints around their county and the subsequent visits to the sister's farm by soldiers the troubles in its many nefarious guises had intruded into the sister's childhood.
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