An autobiographical novel set in 1960s Ireland, this irresistible story follows the rise and fall of the O’Feeney family, seen through the eyes of a precocious little girl.
More savage than civilized, Noleen is a rare character from a Dublin long forgotten, where Nelson’s Pillar still stands in O’Connell Street - but not for long - and where untamed musicians gather in the O’Feeneys’ kitchen to raise a jar and the roof. Noleen’s father, a successful actor and scoundrel king of the city, does his best to destroy his family, while her mother tries to save it. Noleen schemes to make it through each Dublin day, cadging sweets and growing tough in the midst of chaos. In the end, however, nothing - not even a fierce girl’s powerful imagination - can hold the family together and keep them, safe as geese in the sky, in their home on Tolka Row.
Smarty Girl is a wild child’s journey through a world alternately tender and brutal, humorous and heartbreaking, told in language as musical and vibrant as Dublin itself.
Honor Molloy’s mother, Yvonne, is an American theater director who sailed to Ireland in 1953 to study in Trinity College. Her father, John, was a seventh generation Dubliner and a local legend for his work on stage, in films, and on television. Dedicated to capturing and preserving the Dublin vernacular, they worked together for 15 years producing plays, radio, television shows… and six children. The life they led together - and the reasons that life had to end - provides the inspiration for their Smarty Girl.
Honor Molly's telling of a young girl's recollection of her early childhood in 1950's Dublin offers a touching peek inside the heroine's small and changing world. As the family finds it necessary to flee to America, "where everyone wears beautiful clothes," we see that this amazing creature is bold, clever, and observant of the adults who surround her. Indeed, she evokes the wisdom and wonder of young Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird".
The author is as much a poet as a gifted storyteller. More, please!
If you could sum up Smarty Girl in three words, what would they be?
A glimpse in the complicated relationships of a theatrical family in 1960s Dublin. And exploration and dissection of the fracturing of a family.
What other book might you compare Smarty Girl to and why?
Which character – as performed by Honor Molloy – was your favorite?
Noleen, the spunky, irrepressible Noleen
If you could rename Smarty Girl, what would you call it?
love the name
Any additional comments?
wonderful use of different narrators to signal change of perspective which allow Molloy (the author) to maintain her childish voice and perspective. The author's mother reads the sections that pertain to herself.