This is the second volume of Martha Long's memoirs after "Ma, He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes", which had me HOOKED and was a real page-turner. As soon as this instalment of her memoirs came out, I leapt and bought a copy and, alas, I was quite underwhelmed.
This volume concerns Martha's life in her early teens in the 1970s (judging by the movies she cites as having watched - though the disclaimer at the beginning states that the events in the book might not actually be in the order that they happened, which gave me the impression that they might have been "dramatised" a bit and might not be entirely autobiographical...) in a convent on the outskirts of Dublin. The postscript on the book mentions that Martha is put to "backbreaking work" by the nuns, but the text contradicts this. Though Martha is certainly worked hard, she seems to enjoy it and I wouldn't describe scrubbing a few floors as "back breaking" - I was expecting hard-labour!
My major disappointment with this book is that it just never really seems to "get going" and doesn't have the passion or drive of the last volume. It seems to me to be a nexus between the first and third volumes of Martha's memoirs that could have very, very easily been included in either one, preferably in a cut-down format as there are many, many chapters in which nothing much happens.
In the first book, it was clear when "he sold me for a few cigarettes" but in this volume, Martha doesn't actually get herself "a new mammy" - I can't decide if this refers to her longings to "belong" to one of the nuns or to the brief period she's "adopted" as a Christmas present by a lower-middle-class family - an event that clearly had a significant effect on Martha but which was barely described in favour of relating Martha's own anecdotes that she told said family at the time. I felt an air of self-indulgence about this book, rather than the raw, brutal honesty of the first volume.
I hold out a lot of hope for the next volume (which is out in September) and I hope that it's more like the first volume than this one.
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