Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
on 2 October 2012
This is the third book I have read by Christine Dwyer Hickey [see my reviews of Last Train from Laguria and Cold Eye Of Heaven]. As with another of my favourites Rose Tremain, Ms. Hickey has the rare knack of writing on totally different subjects with authority, drama and humour. She is a gem whom I am so glad I have found.
This book starts in 1964 and covers 6 or 7 years in the life of young Tatty taking us to her early teens as she copes with growing up in a family being destroyed by booze. One sister Deirdre is mentally handicapped while her clever sister Jeanne is asthmatic. Her brothers are scamps and the responsibility for them all is steadily heaped on the bright middle sibling, Tatty. She is her Dad's favourite and she shares with him many secrets of his dubious lifestyle. He is an engaging , likeable, wheeler dealer. Never short of a bob or two, popular in the pub, admired by the ladies but where his cash comes from we are left to guess. The Mam starts as a typical harassed mother looking after her home and children and occasionally enjoying a drink or five with her sisters and pals. The family functions no better and no worse than many others in 1964 Dublin. |They have the outward appearance of a successful middle class family in their nice home with the family car and money for clothes and treats. The demon drink however is rotting the fabric of this family as the Mam becomes reliant on her daily binge and the Dad is out more and more returning very much the worse of booze. Family life degenerates to an existence level. The fights between Mam and Dad which used to be occasional are now one long battle.
This sounds like a depressing tale, but Ms. Hickey imbues it with humour and understanding. Some of the scrapes the children get into are hilarious and I found that in spite of their many faults, I could not bring myself to dislike Mam and Dad and in Tatty I found a young heroine in the style of "Mockingbird's" scout.
The well observed dialogue was scintillating, entertaining and at times heartbreaking as the 205 pages flew by. This is a must read. Well done Christine Dwyer Hickey.