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The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan


The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan
UK Publication: August 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Two word review – Fecking brilliant!

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Aylward women of Nenagh, Tipperary, are mad about each other, but you wouldn’t always think it. You’d have to know them to know – in spite of what the neighbours might say about raised voices and dramatic scenes – that their house is a place of peace, filled with love, a refuge from the sadness and cruelty of the world.

Their story begins at an end and ends at a beginning. It involves wives and widows, gunrunners and gougers, sinners and saints. It’s a story of terrible betrayals and fierce loyalties, of isolation and togetherness, of transgression, forgiveness, desire, and love. About all the things family can be and all the things it sometimes isn’t. From the prize-winning author of Strange Flowers and The Spinning Heart, The Queen of Dirt Island is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal love and the powerful stories that bind generations together.

My Thoughts: I loved this book from start to finish. From the beginning it was a 4 star read and then events in the final chapters ramped that up to a solid 5 stars from me.

This is a beautiful story of family specifically the female interactions in a family down through 4 generations. Each woman has her own distinct voice, and I loved the way even Nana is not above a good cussing session.

The writing is lyrical and the sentiments are fully expressed without falling into sentimentality a fine line to walk.

The remote Irish setting is also important as it is the background of a God-fearing community that makes this family so unique in the way they live their lives and the way they interact with each other and the world around.

While this has been described as stream of consciousness (a genre I normally run screaming from) in this case it really works and while there is lack of grammar compared with say Dickens its absence was not keenly felt by this reader the story just rolled along involving me more and more in the lives of these Irish women.

This is one of those books where I was constantly highlighting quotes (I love the Kindle for this feature) so I feel it is only far to share a few of my favourites with you. Warning they mainly contain bad language or suggestions as that’s the kinda girl I am.

“Every other house in the small estate that had children in it also had a father, a living one. None of them looked like they were of much use except for cutting grass with the same shared lawnmower”

“it’s my own fault letting you off into town with a hairband around your waist and the cheeks of your stupid arse on show”

“And she screeching out like a one being killed from the pleasure of it. Well for her, I suppose. It was an endurance in my day. You said you prayers until it was over and then you prayed again.

“You’ll have to either get a smaller arse or a bigger skirt”

“You only get one life, and no woman should spend any part of it being friends with men. That’s not what men are for.”

“besides acting like the Rapture is here and you haven’t your sins confessed.”

“How close to the fecking door does he want to get? He’ll be inside the kitchen in a minute.”

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good family saga with strong female characters and a lot of humour.

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

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Remedial Stitcher #

    This sounds really good. I loved his Spinning Heart.


    November 10, 2022

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