Sunday, 6 August 2017

A Greyhound of a Girl

Finished July 14
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle never fails to grip me with his stories. Here Mary O'Hara, twelve years old, is doubly unhappy. Her best friend, Ava, moved to another part of Dublin and the two girls won't see each other daily as they were used to. And Mary's grandmother, Emer, who she is close to, is in hospital dying. As Mary walks home from the school bus, past the group of chestnut trees near her home, a woman she's never seen before appears among the trees and speaks to her. At first, Mary thinks that it is an older woman, but as she gets closer, she realizes that the woman is just wearing old-fashioned clothing. The woman knows who Mary is, and gives her a message for her grandmother. She says "Tell your granny, it'll all be grand."
Mary lives with her parents and two older brothers. Her mother, Scarlett, talks in exclamation marks most of the time, something that Mary lets her know frankly. Mary's brother's are lumbering, exuberant, and shy with woman. They are Dominic, 14 and Kevin, 16, but seem to Mary to have become a different species lately, going by the nicknames Dommo and Killer. After a snack, Mary and Scarlett head off to the hospital to visit granny.
When Mary meets the strange woman the next afternoon, she has to admit that she forgot to pass on the message, and the woman, identifying herself as Tansy, makes herself known to Mary's mother as well. As they both become aware that Tansy is the ghost of Emer's own mother, who died when Emer was very young, they together commit to a road trip to the past of the four generations of women.
This is a tale of love, and comfort, with many touches of humour. We see Tansy and Emer's lives in more detail as we go back in the past.
The book copy I got described itself for all ages from nine up, and I totally agree with that. A keeper.

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