M for Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly
|M for Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: A warm, moving and cleverly told tale of a family in crisis, M for Mammy is an immediately relatable tale told in an original and memorable fashion.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: March 2019|
|Publisher: Two Roads|
|External links: Author's website|
The Augustts are, like all families, a bit complicated. A loving irish family, their love binds them together – but all express that in very different ways. However, when misfortune strikes the family they are forced to work together in order to understand each other again, as with a family as complicated as the Augustts it's not always what is spoken that makes the most sense. Things are shaken up further when Granny Mae-Anne moves in and takes charge. Full of stern words and common sense, she's a force of nature who must try her hardest to hold the family together.
Author Eleanor O'Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical studies, who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Based in Ireland with her husband and daughter, O'Reilly has won several awards for her short stories, with M for Mammy her first novel.
I should start by saying that, historically, I've struggled with novels that are written in the language of a child. Whilst I understand that it allows the author to connect the reader and the character easily, it's a style that is rarely used well - with, in my opinion, some authors using it as a crutch rather than a narrative device that adds anything to the storytelling. However, in the last few years I have read a few exceptions, and M for Mammy is one of these - with author O'Reilly utilising various viewpoints in order to tell her story - allowing her to use a variety of narrative styles and ensuring that, when she does tell the story through the viewpoint of a character such as young, autistic Jacob, the effect is maximised on the reader to compelling, emotional effect.
The story told here is a warm and moving tale of a family finding out how to come together in the wake of a family emergency - when Annette, Mammy, heart of the family, has a stroke and loses her ability to talk. In the wake of the stroke the family is pulled together by Granny Mae-Anne, but they struggle to talk to each other about their feelings - with Da feeling unable to communicate, daughter Jenny preferring to write her thoughts down than to discuss them, and son Jacob unable to express his feelings due to autism. At heart, this is a warm and uplifting family drama, but amplified and improved by the clever choices that O'Reilly chooses to make in how she tells her tale. These really allow the reader to get to know each character intimately - and as such ensures that the emotional pull of the narrative is strong throughout. Family should be warm, comforting, and a little bit complicated - and that's exactly what M for Mammy is – a simple tale told with great complexity, nuance, and skill.
Many thanks to the publishers for the copy, and for further reading I recommend Little Gold by Allie Rogers - another read that elevates a simple story through carefully chosen prose and great narrative choices.
You can read more book reviews or buy M for Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy M for Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly at Amazon.com.
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