In the aftermath of WWII, three sisters struggle to find their place in the world.
Today, we are thrilled to be the stop on the Blog Tour for The Dublin Girls by Cathy Mansell.
Our thanks to the author and Headline Publishing for the advanced reader’s copy.
Title: The Dublin Girls by Cathy Mansell.
Lenght: 358 pages
Publication Date: Headline (July 23, 2020)
In 1950s Dublin, life is hard and jobs are like gold dust.
Nineteen-year-old Nell Flynn is training to be a nurse and planning to marry her boyfriend, Liam Connor, when her mother dies, leaving her younger sisters destitute. To save them from the workhouse, Nell returns to the family home – a mere two rooms at the top of a condemned tenement.
Nell finds work at a biscuit factory and, at first, they scrape through each week. But then eight-year-old Róisín, delicate from birth, is admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever and fifteen-year-old Kate, rebellious, headstrong and resentful of Nell taking her mother’s place, runs away.
When Liam finds work in London, Nell stays to struggle on alone – her unwavering devotion to her sisters stronger even than her love for him. She’s determined that one day the Dublin girls will be reunited and only then will she be free to follow her heart.
From the Publisher’s Blurb
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The backdrop is post-war Dublin (1950) during a massive economic recession, general poverty, and mass emigration.
Nell was nineteen and had her whole life planned. She would finish nursing school, marry her sweetheart Liam, and start a family. But things rarely go as planned.
After losing both her parents, Nell had to assume the role of sole provider for her sisters Kate (15yo) and Roisin (8yo). Nursing school became a long lost dream, and reality was a full day shift at the local biscuit factory.
The sisters were fascinating characters. They had very different personalities, goals, and views of life and what they wanted to achieve.
The most complex of the three was Kate. She was as rebellious as a fifteen-year-old could be. She was egocentric, rude, and always making the worse possible choices. I had to keep reminding myself she was only a child.
If this had not been a fictional story, I shudder to think what would have become of Kate.
Roisin was a sweetheart, but her health was very fragile.
It was very touching to see how Nell, almost a child herself, tried to keep everyone together facing all kinds of challenges (and there were plenty).
The two of them reminded me a little of Elinor and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
There is a little bit of romance, even an almost love triangle, but it does not take center stage. Liam is an honorable and sweet hero, a bit clueless, in my opinion, but very good at heart.
It always fascinates me to see the world in another place and time. To understand how those people lived and coped with their reality. These girls, so young, out there in a cruel and merciless world.
The book is well-written and captured the post-war atmosphere sensibly and engagingly. The story has a happy and satisfying end.
Warning: Sexual assault, death, illness, and poverty.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author:
“I was born in Dublin and grew up a robust, adventurous child, and found all the excitement and fun I needed along the Dodder river in the small neighbourhood of Ballsbridge. We later moved to Donnybrook, a short distance from Ballsbridge. Here I spent my teenage years until I married at twenty one. My husband was in the hosiery trade so; Leicester in the heart of England was the ideal place to move to.
I hail from a family of writers’ my Great Aunt was a story teller and a published poet, so it was inevitable I was always going to be a writer.
My writing career began with articles published in newspapers and magazines and children’s stories broadcast on local radio. I then progressed to writing novels and found it enjoyable and fulfilling.
In 2013 the first of my five book run with Tirgearr Publishing began with the R.N.A.’s Joan Hessayon Award finalist; Shadow across the Liffey and includes four other titles.”