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on 12 May 2013
I love this story. It means quite a lot to me as I was in a situation pretty much the same with my Grandpa. Its a lovely story which makes me happy but sad at the same time, if that makes sense! I like the characters in this book.
Mary, the main character talks in ways which sound cheeky so at the end she always says "I'm not being cheeky"
Scarlet, Mary's mum, always ends her sentences in !!!'s.
I highly recommend this book. Its full of ghosts, greyhounds and love
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on 28 July 2014
This book harked back to a period where life and death were accepted as part of living, involving family,
the community, the village. Children were not protected from birth or death, especially in country or farming communities
where such matters were daily occurrences.
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VINE VOICEon 24 June 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Well written, with anecdotal descriptions which make the characters warm and likable:
Mary, not far off being a teenager who is feeling bereft after her best friend moves house to another part of Dublin;
Mary's mother Scarlet who talks in exclamation marks, "Even your whispers end in !!!s"
Emer, Mary's grandmother, remembering how her own grandmother used to 'worry the food' at the range and
Tansey, Mary's great-grandmother who full of vibrancy and life succumbs to the flu at the age of 25.

Doyle has a talent for voicing very realistic children's thoughts. He brings the story alive with his descriptions of the farmyard, the broken 'hegg' and the tender relationship between a child and her mother and grandmother.
It was an interesting idea and one that might well appeal to anyone who is missing a loved one. Although the message was that everyone is 'somewhere' and that death itself necessarily 'the end' the book was pleasantly lacking in religion as an explanation.
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on 7 May 2015
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on 4 May 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wasn't sure at first what to make of this book - Roddy Doyle writing from the point of view of four women, one of them a ghost? However, I went on to devour it in two sittings!

The writing is simple and direct, dealing with the big themes of life - love, loss and death - with humour, and without sugary sentimentality. This book could easily have got mawkish, and it is one of its strengths that all life changes - death, puberty, friends leaving - are dealt with in a very matter of fact way. The humour is subtle, the language fresh and up to date and the characters charming.

This book, although aimed at young teenagers, has a lot for adults to enjoy and take away. If a young person you know is struggling to come to terms with a bereavement, it would be a good book to recommend, but it is much more than an "issue" book.
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on 6 April 2013
This is a clever book. It has multiple narrators, all managed with a skillful third-person immersed style which compliments the themes of family and identity. There are some cleverly observed passages of dialogue - Scarlett (Mary's mother) speaks in exclamation marks. The relationships are subtle but strong, and this unmelodramatic realism is something that Doyle does brilliantly.

I read an earlier kids' book by Doyle a few years ago ('Wilderness!') and loved it. However, I really didn't enjoy 'A Greyhound of a Girl' very much at all.

You see the thing for me was that while I kind of liked the characters, the relationships were perhaps just a touch too stable. There isn't really any conflict in the novel, and consquently there is very little tension. It is a slim volume, but really it could be a lot slimmer as while lots of the clever multiple narrative adds flesh to the characters, it gives little to the reader.

The book does pick up a little in the last twenty or thirty pages, but overall there is just too little going on for this to be a good read.

Read 'Wilderness!' instead.
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VINE VOICEon 20 May 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Roddy Doyle's children's book, which the blurb says is suitable from ages 10 to adult, deals with some big themes but it's by far from a heavy or tricky story. There's a lot of humour and lightness of touch.

Mary is twelve and her grandmother is in hospital dying. It's a difficult time for Mary and her mother, then Mary meets a sweet old lady who seems very familiar and knows a lot about her grandma. She also seems to disappear in bright light...

We have dying, loss, ghosts and sadness. But also lightness, love and a strong bond across four generations of women.

I was a little stuck to know what age range this story would appeal to as a children's book but it does address these big issues in a subtle and sensitive way.

Having not read any Roddy Doyle for years and struggled with reading the dialogue in his Snapper, The Van, etc series I was a little apprehensive. But the language and dialogue is easy to read whilst the phrasing of the dialogue creates great Irish atmosphere and character.

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did and I'm struggling to put my finger on what about it didn't quite hit the 5 stars. I think perhaps it's a little too thin in some aspects of the characters and their relationships. They didn't quite come to life for me.

Having said that there are some absolutely beautiful passages and dialogue exchanges. The idea of the story is wonderful and I did enjoy it.

It's one of those books that I found frustrating that it could have delivered a little bit more yet it will be one of those stories which will be with me for a very long time. I can see potential for this to become a classic and a text that will be studied by many students in the future.

I'm very glad I got to read it.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I absolutely loved this book. It's a slim volume so I was expecting to be underawed by a lightweight story but this book is utterly amazing. It's uplifting, incredibly funny but really, really poignant. From the end of chapter 5 I was a bit tearful but by the end of chapter 6 I was cheerfully sobbing my heart out. I read the rest of the book in a haze of happy tears. It's a masterpiece of a tribute to mothers and grandmothers.
The 'greyhound of a girl' is grandmother Emer who is dying in hospital, or rather holding on in hospital. Her mother Tansey shows up to meet great grand-daughter Mary but there is a slight complication as Tansey died when Emer was three.
Despite the sad setting it's a thoroughly positive and entertaining book with lots of ghostly humour. Mary who loves Twilight and her monosyllabic teenage brothers are excellent characters and there are some brilliant flashbacks to Emer and Tanseys earlier lives.
Very highly recommended to anyone who has a grandmother, whether they got to meet them or not i.e absolutely everyone of any age.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This short novel by the fine Irish writer Roddy Doyle is written for teens, but I thoroughly enjoyed it on an adult level too...

Mary O'Hara is twelve. She's feisty and rather cheeky - but then her Mum Scarlett was too when she was younger; it's a family trait. Mary's gran, Emer used to be like that too, but she's nearing the end of her life in hospital, it won't be long. Emer never really knew her mother, for Tansey died of the flu when she was only three. One day as Mary is walking home from school, she meets a friendly old lady, who somehow seems familiar. They strike up a conversation, and the old lady is there again the next day. She says her name is Tansey. When Mary tells her Mum this, she's shocked to the bone as the only Tansey she knows is her dead grandmother. Mary introduces them, and finds out that Tansey is indeed the ghost of her late great-grandmother who has come to help her gran in her last days. Together the O'Hara women hatch a plan to help Tansey and Emer meet properly before she dies, and to see what has become of the farm they grew up in.

Considering that death is one of the central themes of this novel, whether it be the impending demise of Emer, the sudden illness of Tansey, or the animals on the farm, there's nothing shocking or unnatural about it at all, it's part of the cycle of life. This allows the book to concentrate almost exclusively on the four women. The few male characters just pass through now and then, rarely stopping to join in the tale, like Mary's teenaged brothers who only appear to eat; Mary finds Dommo and Killer, as Dominic and Kevin now monnicker themselves to be an alien species these days.

Doyle alternates voices between conventional story-telling and chapters narrated by one of the four women, starting with Mary. You can see their family resemblances clearly - not just in the way they look - for the O'Hara women are tall and slim like the greyhounds they kept on the farm, but also their inner strength, and cheeky forthright manners. This allows for some typically humorous conversations between them, which gives a lovely bittersweet edge to this tale; not out and out funny like Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy (in which The Van in particular just cracked me up), but it will make you smile, and that's a good thing for a book about dying written for teenagers to do.
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