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Bailey’s 2016 Short List Review: The Glorious Heresies Lisa McInerney



Book Worm is charging ahead with her reading of the Bailey’s Prize nominees. Here’s what she thought of The Glorious Heresies:

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
Published in: 2015
Literary Awards: Bailey’s 2016 Short List
Reviewed by: Book Worm  and/or Jen
Rating: ★★★★
Find it here: The Glorious Heresies

This ARC was provided by John Murray Press (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight . . .

Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I toyed with my rating for this book. At first it was going to be 3 stars, then 3.5, and then I finally settled on 4 stars because I realized I was still thinking about the story and the ending long after the book ended.

This reminded me of One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, another darkly funny read. I really enjoyed the humour in the book. The story is bleak. It is also violent and sexual, but there are moments that are just hilarious even when the situation is serious.

I loved the character of Maureen, the Irish Mammy whose instinctive action brings the world crashing down for everyone around her. Maureen to me was a totally vivid and larger than life character who held the entire narrative together and who kept if from being a hopeless story. The other characters are also well drawn and complex but Maureen just stood out for me.

Favourite Quotes:

“The Lord works in mysterious ways,’ she said. ‘I know a few lords like that all right.'”

“Jimmy Phelan had a reputation. Tony Cusack had more of a stench”

“‘They’re not bad people.’ ‘How very gracious of them.'”

“They heady warmth of the thought seeped through his shell and into his bones and lifted him onto his toes and rose off him like holy water off the devil’s shoulders”

‘I didn’t tell her he was dead!’ ‘Well how’d she get the idea then?’ ‘Maybe because he looks the sort?’ ‘He looks the sort to die?'”

“‘Ah for feck’s sake altogether. Another religious mother. you’d have to ask yourself what’s wrong with this country at all that it can’t stop birthing virtuous ould bags.”

‘Oh, yeah. God knows how long. Never mind all of them that you touched before God started keeping tabs, they’re not supposed to count’

“She didn’t know the ins and outs of inebriation, outside of being able to diagnose every stage of drunkenness as dictated by her nationality; he was inebriated, though, and not pissed.”

Who would enjoy this book? This is not a book everyone will enjoy due to the violence and frequent use of swearing, especially the C word. The book is not for those who are easily offended by criticism of religion since the book  mocks some religious aspects, in particular related to Catholicism in Ireland. But if you have a dark sense of humour and are not put of by violence and sexually explicit scenes and you smiled at some of the quotes above, then give it a go.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Glorious Heresies

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Brilliant selection of quotes. I laughed out loud! This is going on my wish list.


    May 6, 2016
    • Book Worm #

      Hope you enjoy it 🙂


      May 6, 2016
  2. I’m trying to ignore this review. My TBR can’t handle it


    May 6, 2016
    • Tracy S #

      Too late for me! It’s already on my shelf.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 6, 2016
  3. a murderer, a gangster, an alcoholic and a drug dealer: is there anyone in the book that is normal?

    Liked by 1 person

    May 7, 2016
    • Book Worm #

      That would be a no


      May 7, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Bailey’s Prize 2016: Our Predictions | The Reader's Room
  2. 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize Winner… | The Reader's Room

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