Black Baby

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Irish writer Boylan ( Holy Pictures ; Last Resorts ) opens her fourth novel with a biblical epigraph: ``Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,'' and the theme reverberates throughout this engaging tale. In an unnamed Irish city, Dinah, a big-hearted black woman with a lust for life, winds up on the doorstep of Alice, a fearful 67-year-old spinster. As Dinah recounts her mythic (and mythical) past, Alice comes to believe that Dinah is the black baby she ``bought'' for a missionary donation when she was 12 years old. She welcomes Dinah as her daughter, and Dinah breathes new life into Alice's dull existence. Boylan writes with sureness, aplomb and humor; her metaphoric language crackles with exactitude. She never succumbs to sentimentality or quaintness, even when dealing with subjects as potentially dangerous as brotherly love and the loneliness of old age. Despite the somewhat heavy-handed ironic ending, this is a delightful read. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Alice Boyle, 67-year-old Dublin spinster, leads a quiet, dreary existence until a young black woman mysteriously drifts into her life. She dubs this woman Dinah, after the child she had ``purchased'' from nuns when she, too, was a young woman. Never mind that Dinah is a fraud. She brings color and gaiety to the repressed spinster, whose only solace has been a cat and the annual Christmas visit from her two nephews and their greedy wives. Boylan has skillfully captured the atmosphere of Dublin and its ordinary citizens who love to drink and spin dreams and con their friends and neighbors. Boylan turns out to be the biggest con artist of all with her ironic plot twists and turns. Enjoy every minute of this, with its exquisite writing and empathetic treatment of very believable characters. Highly recommended.-- Marion Hanscom, SUNY at Binghamton Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385261012
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/23/1989
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 210

Meet the Author

Clare Boylan
Clare Boylan
Employing her knack for research, her love of the Victorian novel, and her connection to kindred literary spirit Charlotte Brontë, award-winning Irish journalist and novelist Clare Boylan (1948- 2006) accomplished the formidable task of actually "finishing" Brontë's novel Emma Brown. It was the crowning achievement of her distinguished literary career.

Biography

Clare Boylan began her literary career as a journalist for the now defunct Irish Press. In 1974, while working for Ireland's Evening Press, she won the Journalist of the Year Award. She also worked as editor of Image magazine and lent her considerable style and elegance to that glossy lifestyle publication. Her first book, the novel Holy Pictures, was published in 1983. She went on to complete six additional novels, several collections of short stories, two works of literary nonfiction, and an impressive body of criticism.

The book for which Boylan is best known is Emma Brown, a brilliant, imaginative continuation of a 20-page novel fragment left behind by Charlotte Brontë. Before tackling the project, Boylan spent countless hours in painstaking research, immersing herself in the social conventions of Victorian London (where the novel takes place) and striving to re-create the subtle nuances of Brontë's unique literary voice. She succeeded admirably. Published in 2003, the book received lavish praise, especially for its pitch-perfect tone. Writing in the New York Times, reviewer Miranda Seymour raved, "Emma Brown is a powerful and magnificently written novel that does ample justice to the two brief chapters from which it sprang."

Boylan died on May 16th, 2006, from ovarian cancer, a disease she had battled for several years.

Good To Know

In our interview, Boylan revealed some interesting anecdotes about herself:

"As children my sisters and I read late into the night by torchlight. When the torches gave out we made up our own stories, cliff-hanging serials that always stopped at the most spine-tingling moment."

"I became a professional writer because it was a hidden profession. I always looked too young and too small for a proper job. As a teenager I got a summer job in a grocery shop, but I looked so unimpressive that I was put in the back cutting the stalks off cabbages. The two old ladies who ran the shop would not even let me out to join the street parade for John F. Kennedy, who was visiting Dublin. I have never forgiven them for that."

"My first poem was published when I was 16. It was called "First Love." It earned me ten shillings and a fan letter from a handsome older man (with a blurred photo enclosed) who wrote poems about his wartime experiences. After a fever of correspondence we agreed to meet. What a shock! I couldn't believe anyone could be so old. He had neglected to mention that his service was in World War One. I never wrote another poem, but I did write a short story about the meeting and that set me on the path to fiction."

"Holy Pictures was my first novel, published in 1983. Home Rule, published nine years later, was inspired by an old photograph I found in a friend's house. I realized it fitted exactly my image of Nan's mother, Daisy, and knew I had to tell the story of Daisy's childhood and early marriage."

"I have always loved walking, talking, and reading and I like interesting ways to exercise. I am currently learning to box -- great for me, but a challenge for my instructor teaching a skinny, middle-aged five-footer. Next project is to learn to ride a bicycle. I have been driving since my 20s but never learned to cycle."

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    1. Hometown:
      County Wicklow, Ireland
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 21, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      May 16, 2006
    2. Place of Death:
      Dublin, Ireland

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