Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Big Girl Small Town by Michelle Gallen


Majella O'Neill doesn't like things to change.  Her life is one of routines she has developed over the years.  She goes to work in the fish and chips every day wearing the same outfit.  Majella is fat but doesn't care, she likes the extra weight and the comfort it brings her.  She eats the same dinner every night, fish and chips from where she works.  She watches the same show, Dallas, in her bedroom on her DVD player.  When she is home, she stays in her room, avoiding her alcoholic mother.  

Underlying this routine is sadness.  Her father disappeared almost a decade ago and has never been heard from since.  Her mother has never worked so it falls on Majella to support them.  Now her grandmother has been attacked in her caravan out in the country and has died, a murder case.  Majella is sad about her grandmother's death and upset that it puts her in the spotlight as the murder is all anyone can talk about.

But things are changing.  Her grandmother surprisingly has left the family land to Majella instead of her aunt.  That means there is finally the possibility that Majella could do something different with her life.  She could sell the land and move away although it has been in her father's family for decades.  She could move to the land away from everyone.  What will she do?

This Irish novel won several awards.  It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and longlisted for the Irish Award For Newcomer Of The Year.  Gallen has created a memorable character in Majella.  Although others may look down on her, she is comfortable with herself and her life and knows what brings her happiness.  She is a survivor and can sustain herself with small comforts and occasional human interaction.  Readers will remember Majella long after they finish the novel.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.

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