Swift Pure Cry

( 11 )

Overview

Ireland 1984.

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, who is charming, eloquent, and persuasive. But when Declan suddenly leaves Ireland to seek his fortune in ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$8.10
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$8.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (43) from $1.99   
  • New (17) from $3.81   
  • Used (26) from $1.99   
Swift Pure Cry

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price
Note: Visit our Teens Store.

Overview

Ireland 1984.

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, who is charming, eloquent, and persuasive. But when Declan suddenly leaves Ireland to seek his fortune in America, Shell finds herself pregnant and the center 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.

This is a story of love and loss, religious belief and spirituality—it will move the hearts of any who read it.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“IT IS NO small feat to write a story so heavy with foreboding and both deliver on the palpable sense of dread and concoct a hopeful yet realistic ending. Dowd achieves this in her beautifully realized account of one girl’s loss of innocence, and her resilient recovery.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Dowd’s elegant, unsentimental prose and her instinctive grasp of the struggles of the human heart [lead] toward a hopeful ending. Don’t let your kids keep this book to themselves.”—People Magazine

“Told through flowing eloquent prose, with strong Joycean influences, this engrossing and haunting tale will not let the reader go.”—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This debut from an Irish writer opens with an epigraph from Joyce's Ulysses, setting a high standard that Dowd meets. Set in southern Ireland in 1984 and loosely based on an unsolved crime that rocked the nation, the story begins after the death of Moira Talent, wife of Joe and mother of Shell (short for Michelle), Trix and Jimmy. Joe Talent has buried his grief in a bottle, leaving 15-year-old Shell to run the household. Her father becomes pious after his wife's death, but Shell loses her faith—until young Father Rose joins the parish. She deflects her crush on the priest by taking up with smooth-talking classmate Declan, who gets her pregnant but leaves for America before he knows he's going to be a father. The residents of her claustrophobic rural community avert their eyes as Shell's shape changes, but cannot deny the tragedy that follows. At this point, the tenor of the novel smoothly and inexorably changes from an introspective examination of grief and loss, to a mystery with a thriller's momentum. Dowd's empathy for her characters extends even to Shell's father, a man with "a black shrivelled walnut for a heart." It is no small feat to write a story so heavy with foreboding and both deliver on the palpable sense of dread and concoct a hopeful yet realistic ending. Dowd achieves this in her beautifully realized account of one girl's loss of innocence, and her resilient recovery. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
Inspired by James Joyce (the title comes from his Ulysses), Dowd writes about a small town in Ireland in 1984, though it feels like an earlier era. Shell (Michelle) is the focus of the story, as she tries to guide her younger siblings through the grief of the death of their mother and the strange breakdown of their father, who has become obsessively religious. Shell has lost her faith, at least until the coming of the new young priest Father Rose. I was thinking at this point that the story was going to evolve into one of abuse of Shell by this priest, but no, it's nothing like that. The priest, who is losing his faith, is one of the few sane, loving adults in this claustrophobic village. For a story that concerns incest and infanticide, teenage pregnancy and Shell giving birth with only the help of her little brother and sister, it is amazingly free of offensive details. Rather, Dowd tells all in a gush of vivid language filled with poetic expression and a style that can only be Irish, with the frequent references to Jesus, Mary, and sin. Praised in the UK where it was first published, this first novel is amazingly poignant and memorable. It might be a hard sell to American YAs—but fortunately the cover art is attractive, which will help.
VOYA - Jenny Ingram
Fifteen-year-old Shell Talent lives in rural Ireland in 1984. After the death of her mother, her father stops farming and Shell becomes the responsible member of her family, looking after her younger brother and sister and frequently skipping school. Shell becomes pregnant by a classmate, who leaves for the United States, and when she secretly gives birth to a dead baby, a new, young priest steps in to help her with her legal troubles. Dowd's story depicts a bleak, poor existence with little happiness or satisfaction. It both embraces and criticizes the Catholic church by showing the comfort it brings to people as well as how the policies of the church create problems. There are few prospects for Shell's future, but a teacher, the priest, and a family friend all encourage her. She, in turn, supports her siblings. Shell is tough and resilient, and the story ends on a hopeful note when Shell's father begins to farm again and a sense of order and productivity returns to her family. First published in the U.K., this book, with its serious tone and inclusion of social issues, will have appeal for American readers desiring weightier material, and teachers might find it useful in the classroom.
VOYA - Kristen Moreland
Dowd's rich, descriptive language creates a strong picture of small-town Ireland into which readers can escape. Teens will be able to relate to Shell's confusion and desperation when dealing with her grief and will feel connected to Shell's struggle. This thought-provoking book brings up issues with which teens are familiar, including religion, death, and pregnancy, and addresses them in a way that seems new and through various points of view.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440422181
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 982,787
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Siobhan Dowd’s novels include A Swift Pure Cry, for which she was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start author, The London Eye Mystery, and Bog Child. She passed away in August of 2007 from breast cancer.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

One

The place brought to mind a sinking ship. Wood creaked on the floor, across the pews, up in the gallery. Around the walls, a fierce March wind chased itself.

The congregation launched into the Our Father as if every last soul was going down. Heaven. Bread. Trespass. Temptation. The words whisked passed Shell’s ears like rabbits vanishing into their holes. She tried wriggling her nose to make it slimmer. Evil. Mrs McGrath’s hat lurched in front of her, its feather looking drunk: three-to-one odds it would fall off. Declan Ronan, today’s altar boy, was examining the tabernacle, licking his lips with half-shut eyes. Whatever he was thinking, it wasn’t holy.

Trix and Jimmy sat on either side of her, swinging their legs in their falling-down socks. They were in a competition to see who could go higher and faster.

‘Whisht,’ Shell hissed, poking Jimmy in the ribs.

‘Whisht yourself,’ said Jimmy aloud.

Thankfully, Dad didn’t hear. By now he was up at the microphone, reading the lesson like a demented prophet. His sideburns gleamed grey. The lines on his massive forehead rose and fell. This past year, he’d gone religion-mad. He’d become worshipper extraordinaire, handing out the hymn books, going round with the collection boxes every offertory. Most days he went into nearby Castlerock and walked the streets, collecting for the Church’s causes. On Sunday mornings, she’d often glimpse him practising the reading in his bedroom. He’d sit upright in front of the three panelled mirrors of Mam’s old dressing table, spitting out the words like bad grapes.

Shell, on the other hand, had no time for church: not since Mam’s death, over a year back. She remembered how, when she was small, Mam had made her, Jimmy and Trix dress up clean and bright and coaxed them through Mass with colouring pencils and paper. ‘Draw me an angel, Shell, playing hurling in the rain’; ‘Do me a cat, Jimmy, parachuting off a plane.’ Mam had liked the priests, the candles and the rosaries. Most of all, she’d loved the Virgin Mary. She’d said ‘Sweet Mary this and that’ all day long. Sweet Mary if the potatoes boiled over, if the dog caught a crow. Sweet Mary if the scones came out good and soft.

Then she died.

Shell remembered standing by Mam’s bed as she floated off. Dr Fallon, Mrs Duggan and Mrs McGrath had been there, with Father Carroll leading a round of the rosary. Her dad had stood off to the side, like a minor character in a film, mouthing the words rather than saying them. Now and at the hour of our . . . On the word ‘death’ Shell had frozen. Death. The word was a bad breath. The closer you got the more you wanted it to go away. She’d realized then she didn’t believe in heaven any more. Mam wasn’t going anywhere. She was going to nowhere, to nothing. Her face had fallen in, puckered and ash-white. Her thin fingers kneaded the sheets, working over them methodically. In Shell’s mind, Jesus got off the cross and walked off to the nearest bar. Mam’s face scrunched up, like a baby’s that’s about to cry. Then she died. Jesus drained off his glass of beer and went clean out of Shell’s life. Mrs McGrath put the mirror Mam had used for plucking her eyebrows up to her mouth and said, ‘She’s gone.’ It was quiet. Dad didn’t move. He just kept on mouthing the prayers, a fish out of water.

They’d waked her in the house over three days. Mam’s face turned waxen. Her fingers went blue and stiff, then yellow and loose again. They threaded them with her milk-white rosary beads. Then they buried her. It was a drama, the whole village bowing, the men doffing their hats. There were processions and candles, solemn stares, prayers, and callers night and day. I’m sorry for your trouble, they’d say. A feed of drink was drunk. Shell didn’t cry. Not at first. Not until a whole year passed. Then she’d cried long and hard as she planted the grave up with daffodils on a November day, the first anniversary.

The less religious Shell got, the more Dad became. Before Mam died, he’d only ever gone through the motions, standing in the church’s back porch, muttering with the other men about the latest cattlemart or hurling match. Mam hadn’t minded. She’d joked that men fell into two categories: they were either ardent about God and indifferent to women, or ardent about women and indifferent to God. If she’d been alive now, she wouldn’t have known him. He was piety personified. He’d sold the television, saying it was a vehicle of the devil. He’d taken over Mam’s old role and led Shell, Jimmy and Trix in a decade of the rosary every night, except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when he went straight down to Stack’s pub after his day of collecting. He’d given up his job on Duggans’ farm. He said he was devoting his life to the Lord.

Today, he was almost yelling. Avenging angels, crashing temples and false gods resounded in the small church, hurting the ear. Mrs McGrath’s hat slid off when the shock of the word thunder set the microphone off in a high-pitched whine. Dad’s eyes flickered. He was momentarily distracted. He looked up at the congregation, staring into the middle distance, seeing nobody. He clenched the lectern’s sides. Shell held her breath. Had he lost his place? No. He continued, but the steam had gone out of it. Jimmy punched the bench, making it boom, just as Dad faltered to the end.

‘This – is – the – word – of – the – Lord,’ he trailed.

‘Thanks be to God,’ the congregation chorused. Shell for one meant it. He’d done. Jimmy smirked. He made the hymn sheet into a spyglass and twisted to inspect the people in the gallery. Trix curled up on the floor, with her head on the kneeler. Dad came down from the altar. Everybody stood up. Shell averted her eyes from Dad as he shuffled up beside her. Bridie Quinn, her friend from school, caught her eye. She had two fingers up to her temple and was twizzling them round as if to say, Your dad is mad. Shell shrugged as if to reply, It’s nothing to do with me. Everybody was waiting for Father Carroll to do the Gospel. He was stooped and old, with a soft, sing-song voice. You could go off into a sweet, peaceful dream as he pattered out the words.

There was a long pause.

The wind outside died down. Crows cawed.

It wasn’t Father Carroll who approached the microphone but the new curate, Father Rose. He was fresh from the seminary, people said, up in the Midlands. He’d never spoken in public before. Shell had only seen him perform the rites in silence, at Father Carroll’s side. There was a quickening interest all around.

He stood at the lectern, eyes down, and turned the pages of the book with a slight frown of concentration. He was young, with a full head of hair that sprang upwards like bracken. He held his head to one side, as if considering a finer point of theology. When he found the place, he straightened up and smiled. It was the kind of smile that radiated out to everyone, everywhere at once. Shell felt he’d smiled at her alone. She heard him draw his breath.

‘“The next day, as they were leaving Bethany . . .”’ he began.

His voice was even, expressive. The words had a new tune in them, an accent from another place, a richer county. He read the words as if he’d written them himself, telling the story about Jesus throwing over the tables of the moneylenders outside the temple. Jesus raged with righteous anger and Father Rose’s mouth moved in solemn tandem. The air around him vibrated with shining picture bubbles. Shell could hear the caged birds under the arches, the clink of Roman coins. She could see the gorgeous colours of the Israelites’ robes, the light shafting through the temple columns. The images and sounds cascaded out from the pulpit, hanging in the air, turning over like angels in the spring light.

‘Please be seated,’ Father Rose said at the end of the reading. The congregation sat. Only Shell remained standing, her mouth open. The tables of the moneymen turned into hissing snakes. The multitudes fell silent. Jesus became a man, sad and real, smiling upon Shell as she stood in a daze.

‘Be seated,’ Father Rose repeated gently.

There was a rustle around her and Shell remembered where she was. God. Everyone’s staring. She plumped down. Trix tittered. Jimmy dug his spyglass in her side.

Father Rose came down the altar steps and stood before the congregation, arms folded, grinning, as if welcoming guests over for dinner. There was a mutter at this departure from practice. Father Carroll always went to the pulpit for his sermon. Father Rose began to speak.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

    After her mother died, fifteen-year-old Shell is left to take care of her younger brother and sister and her drunken father. They live in a small Irish village in a little farmhouse. Her mother's death has caused her father to drink even more than he did before, and in sudden religious zeal, he goes out daily to make his "collections." These donations are meant for the church, but he takes out more than his fair share before turning in the remains. <BR/><BR/>Life is difficult. Shell is teased at school and skips out as much as possible. She attempts to look to the church for support, and a new young priest seems to offer a shoulder to lean on. Eventually, Shell seeks emotional release in a relationship with an older boy. They begin a secret relationship spent mostly hidden in the barley field where Declan takes advantage of Shell's need for tenderness. The inevitable happens - Shell becomes pregnant. Without her mother to confide in, Shell hides her condition, using a stolen library book to help her understand what is about to happen. <BR/><BR/>Shell is an amazing young girl. She struggles to hold the family together and deal with her circumstances as best she can. As the story unfolds, readers will be surprised at the unpredictable turn of events for Shell, her father, the young priest, and all involved in the unfortunate tragedy. <BR/><BR/>A SWIFT PURE CRY uses Irish dialect and lyrical prose to draw the reader into Shell's world. Her courage and faith shine clearly through this heartbreaking tale.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    To link

    Im his daughter sparkkit where can i find merlin..plz its urgent

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Silver to black

    What y?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Link

    I... i dont know. " he gets up and goes to the 18th result.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Blacksg Blackshadow

    Im leaving

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)