After Shell's mother dies, her obsessively religious father descends into alcoholic mourning and Shell is left to care for her younger brother and sister. Her only release from the harshness of everyday life comes from her budding spiritual friendship with a naive young priest, and most importantly, her developing relationship with childhood friend, Declan, charming, eloquent and persuasive. But when Declan suddenly leaves Ireland to seek his fortune in America, Shell finds herself pregnant and the centre of a scandal that rocks the small community in which she lives, with repercussions across the whole country. The lives of those immediately around her will never be the same again.
Movingly written, this is a sad but not a dismal story, given Shell's resilient personality and the support she gets from a generous-hearted priest. This debut novel is a fine and memorable achievement: it never sells its characters short and always stays close to what was thought to have happened at the time
In a densely woven tapestry of poetic language, sensations, and childhood experience, Dowd's characters stumble through life, bewildered and bereaved, reviving feelings and emotions that are most usually pushed into the back recesses of the mind
It's a beautifully written, lyrical story
This story is told with the innocence and naivety of a young girl and leaves the reader to feel the true emotion behind it. This story will have you hooked; you will go through the usual emotions a well-written book should stir up - laughter, sadness, anger, and compassion
A superb first novel, beautifully written, deeply moving and full of heartbreak. Siobhan Dowd writes without judgement but with enormous sympathy and understanding