This review is from: All of Us There (Hardcover) While there are umpteen childhood memoirs of tough upbringings in underprivileged parts of the world, this is not to be compared.In a highly intelligent and beautiful work, Devlin recalls her early years in Ardmore, Co. Tyrone. It's not full of anecdotes - not a lot really happens, her family are relatively comfortably off and are kind to their six children. But Devlin considers such matters as family dynamics: 'We were all of us often shaken by premonitory turns, which had their genesis in the exemplary foreknowledge of our lives given to us by the sister ahead in time and space. Whatever one did, the sister ahead had already done; wherever one went, a sister had been there; whatever one learnt, a sister knew; whatever one experienced, a sister had first felt. We shared so much, yet in our guarded inner lives we were defensively on our own- perhaps dreaming the same dreams or labouring under the same anxieties but rarely confiding in each other since such confidences always became confessions and were a matter of the finest timing and conjunction of moods.' The influence of the Catholic Church, the feelings of inferiority for not being Protestant, violence and drunkenness -Devlin considers these aspects of her life. She compares her youth with that of other Catholics elsewhere: when her aunt, a nun and headmistress in California, sends her yearbooks from her school, Devlin observes: 'I gazed at their sunny golden faces, at their luxuriantly open expressions bearing so unguardedly down on the camera, and wondered how such expressions had been arrived at. The minds behind them, I thought, had not had to learn that they were worthless like chaff in the wind...these girls did not wait helplessly for life to arrive...they walked towards it.' Beautiful exploration of what it means to be Irish.
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Oh dear, why has no one ever thought to review this? Among the crush of childhood autobiographies (and there are so many great ones) this really IS a modern classic (whereas Are You Somebody, for example, may become one...)