Dublin Girl: Growing up in the 1930's

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Overview

Elaine Crowley's mother had two ambitions: To be "on the pig's back" (out of debt and with some money to spare) and to have a private house. Meanwhile, she lives with her husband and three children in one room in a Dublin tenement over a shop, sharing a bathroom on the landing with the neighbors. Elaine is the eldest, her charming, handsome father's pet, and also an observer: of the crowded streets of the district in which the children play; of Iveagh market; of her mother's visits to the local money-lender; of ...
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PAPERBACK New 1569471371 Never Read-may have light shelf or handling wear-has a price sticker or price written inside front or back cover-publishers mark-Good Copy-I ship FAST ... with FREE tracking! ! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Elaine Crowley's mother had two ambitions: To be "on the pig's back" (out of debt and with some money to spare) and to have a private house. Meanwhile, she lives with her husband and three children in one room in a Dublin tenement over a shop, sharing a bathroom on the landing with the neighbors. Elaine is the eldest, her charming, handsome father's pet, and also an observer: of the crowded streets of the district in which the children play; of Iveagh market; of her mother's visits to the local money-lender; of the nuns at school, the same one her mother and grandmother went to. She is also the innocent witness to her father's infidelity, a participant in her mother's effort to end the affair and the terrified observer of her father's brutal beating of her mother. She gets her first job at age fourteen in order to support the family as her beloved father succumbs to TB, the plague that haunts the district. And finally, ironically, both her mother's wishes come true.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this powerful memoir, Crowley, the author of seven novels published in England, tells the story of her working-class family's descent into poverty as her father succumbed to tuberculosis and her mother remained in denial about the seriousness of his condition. She also presents a vivid picture of tenement life in Ireland's capital in the years leading up to World War II. In a work reminiscent of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes (LJ 8/96), Crowley deftly imitates the oral storyteller's art through the use of short, staccato sentences and fragments. While the memoir (originally published abroad as Cowslips and Chainies) recounts the narrator's own coming of age, a major focus is her much-adored father, a 20th-century Everyman whose weaknesses and strengths combine to manifest the universal human condition. Highly recommended for all public libraries.Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, Ct.
Booknews
Crowley writes a memoir of her tumultuous childhood growing up in Dublin, the daughter of a fierce and contradictory mother and a handsome, philandering, confused father. First published in 1996 in Ireland by The Lilliput Press Ltd. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
The Boston Globe
[A] wonderful memoir filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of a Dublin that is gone forever.
Kirkus Reviews
This memoir of a Dublin girlhood is well written but lacks immediacy. Novelist Crowley (The Ways of Women, 1993, etc.) matter-of- factly recounts her growing up in the slums of Dublin, from an inner-city tenement to a project house outside the center of the city. Hunger does not figureher father has a steady job as a hearse driver, but it is Crowley's mother's determination that provides for her family, as she sometimes visits the pawnbroker or the moneylender. It is hard not to draw comparisons between Crowley's Dublin and Frank McCourt's Limerick. Both authors recount 1930s childhoods in the slums of Irish cities under the specter of tuberculosis. As firstborn children, Crowley and McCourt were both expected early in adolescence to share in the responsibility for their family's support. McCourt's success, however, is hard to follow. Crowley's writing is adequate, but it is by no means as vivid as McCourt's. She keeps her readers at a distance, rather than involving them in the action. What does stand out in Crowley's narrative is her unwavering love for her father and, at least in childhood, her lack of compassion for her mother, who in typical Irish fashion is the backbone of her family. Her father's affair with a younger woman almost causes him to leave the family. However, the prevailing social code of the time is stunning: Crowley's mother reveals the affair to the young woman's aunt, thus putting a stop to her husband's plans. Her mother's forbearance of her husband's unfaithfulness and the beating he gives her upon learning she has thwarted his escape would appear saintly to any reader, but Crowley faults her mother for not being forgiving enough. Her father is doomed,though, and ends up with tuberculosis. A childhood affectingly told, though without sufficient intimacy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569471371
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.54 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2000

    A Donegal Boy: Growing up in the 1940's/1950's

    Although there may be a 10 year difference in the time factor and the setting changes from a city to the country, the rest was so close to my personal experiences of my own childhood. Consumption, or TB, was still very much present and was a great threat to life. The difference, here, was my siblings were the ones directly affected. One sister died and another was in the infectious part of a home or sanatorium for approximately a year and a half. But as the book details, where there's sadness, there is also joy. That is and was very evident in both the author's and my own case. Mine like the author's was, essentially, a very vivid and for the most part happy childhood. I found myself savoring the book. I didn't want to read it like I normally do - at the speed of lightening. I accidently discovered Elaine Crowley on a browse session in Scotland. The first book read was ' A Man made to Measure', which I also highly recommend. The next exposure was in a bookstore sale in my area. This time the book was titled Kilgoran. It has a different title in Europe. To get to the point, I initially bought the first book for a female, but now I am, personally a great fan of Elaine's. I really enjoy everything she has written, without exception. This book does serve as a window into the early part of her life. I continually feel as if she is talking to me directly and I find myself being easily drawn into the book as one of the characters Do yourself a favor and read one of her books. If you have an Irish or part Irish background I guarantee that you will enjoy her writing style and the contents of the books also.

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