Becoming My Mother’s Daughter


‘A natural storyteller with a Sedaris-like eye for black humour. There are sharp splinters of comic relief … compelling and nuanced.” Edel Coffey, Irish Times

Quick-witted, charismatic and generous; angry, vicious and hurt; in pubs all over Cork City, Noelle McCarthy's mother Carol rages against her life and everything she has lost. Soon after leaving college, in the early years of the millennium, Noelle flees. Even on the other side of the world, with fame and success within her grasp, Noelle cannot escape an appetite for self-destruction. Life spirals out of control until she too is in danger of losing everything. At thirty, she pulls back from the brink.

Over a decade later, Carol is dying. Finally, it seems, mother and daughter will make peace. Except Carol has no interest in admitting her own mortality - she will die as she lived, entirely on her own terms. If there is any reckoning to be done between past and present, Noelle will be doing it on her own.

Grand is the deeply moving and surprisingly funny outcome of Noelle's yearning to understand her mother, and to make sense of their lives, together and apart. Most of all, it is a dazzlingly honest memoir about becoming a modern woman.

2023 Non-Fiction Winner at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

‘Exquisitely written … profoundly moving. And like all great memoirs it is hilarious in parts. If, like, me, you love the personal essays of Sinéad Gleeson and Emilie Pine, you’ll adore this’ Sunday Independent

'Desperately funny, hysterically sad, so beautiful and so humane. All of life is in it' Meg Mason

'Hooked me like a fish' New York Times

‘A really vivacious account of frayed family relationships across the decades and around the world’ Financial Times Podcast


  • A natural storyteller with a Sedaris-like eye for black humour. There are sharp splinters of comic relief . . . compelling and nuanced
    Edel Coffey, Irish Times

About the author

Noelle McCarthy

Cork-born Noelle McCarthy is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. She lives in New Zealand where she and her husband make podcasts as Bird of Paradise Productions. She is the 2023 International Institute of Modern Letters writer in residence. The No 1 bestselling Grand, her debut, won the Best First Book award in the non-fiction category of the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards.
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