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Aghybogey life

Cover of Big Girl, Small Town
A review of Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

Majella O'Neill lives in the small town Aghybogey in Northern Ireland that has been torn apart by The Troubles that have only recently "ended". To say that the Troubles have ended is a bit of a misnomer. Certainly the violent attacks between Catholics and Protestants have stopped for the most part, but the lingering divide between the factions continues. As the townsfolk go about their lives in this recovery period Majella observes it all from her job in a chip shop (the Catholic one, naturally). But while Majella knows all the gossip and records it daily in dispassionate, if sometime bawdy, terms. Her routine masks a much more complicated life; one in which her father has disappeared, her mother struggles with alcoholism, and her grandmother has been killed.

Big Girl, Small Town is all about a voice, Majella's. She's dry and funny (though she doesn't always realize it) and she perseveres in building a space for herself against pretty big odds. This is a week in the life of a genuinely unique narrator and I was happy to spend that time with her.

Apr 15, 2024