The Closet Of Savage Mementos

The-Closet-Of-Savage-MementNuala Ní Chonchúir

First Sentence:     In the church on Ardmair Street, the Blessed Virgin has a Western European face – she is chubby and big jawed.

Back of the book:

Lillis leaves behind 1980s Dublin for a summer job working at a lodge in a small lochside village in the Scottish Highlands. Leaving Dublin is a way to escape her sorrow and despair following the death of her boyfriend and a testy relationship with her mother, Verity. In Scotland she encounters love and excitement but when a series of unexpected events turn her new found life on its head, she is forced to make a life-changing decision, one that will stay with her for her whole life. The Closet of Savage Mementos is drawn directly from the author’s own experiences and explores heartbreak, loss, motherhood and adoption in a gripping narrative and the same expressive, emotive and exciting prose we have come to expect of Nuala Ní Chonchúir.

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Nuala Ní Chonchúir

First Sentence: Your ma used up all the juice again.

You’re a ten year-old girl. You live in rural Dublin with your ma and your two younger brothers. It is 1980. This is basically the mind you are going to have to enter if you start reading this book, a mind you will find yourself occupying with remarkable ease due to the skill of the writing on display. This novel is written entirely in the second person which gives the book its unique narrative voice. It is not, as I type, 1980. Nor am I a ten year-old girl. As I was reading this book however, it was easy to imagine I was. If you enjoyed Nude, or books like Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey you will find a lot to enjoy here. I thought this was a great read, particularly the first part, and I loved stepping into the mind of the ‘You’ in the title. It somehow managed to evoke memories of my own childhood [not least because of weekends in Kilmuckridge spent in caravans and people constantly asking ‘anything strange or startling?’] and I found ‘Your’ thought process to be incredibly endearing, particularly her feelings on the TV news:

You decide to go on up to bed because there is nothing on, only the news, which is full of boring stuff about hurling and Margaret Thatcher.

It also brought a smile when she speaks of her ma:

When your ma is angry, she says she’s going to run off with a soldier, but she doesn’t know any soldiers, so you don’t think she will.

All in all this is a genuinely moving and often funny portrayal of a childhood ending too soon.

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