Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Smarty Girl by Honor Molloy

Smarty Girl is an autobiographical novel covering three years of Honor Molloy's life. Growing up in the 1960s in the centre of Dublin with theatrical parents brought with it a certain way of life. Through the voice of five year old Noleen we are transported to the streets where childhood games are played and see through her eyes the life led with a father who regularly puts on review shows and records RTE voice overs and an American mother also in the business. It's a life of phone calls for the father in the local pub (this is before all houses had their own phones), gatherings in the family home for sing-alongs and the attempts to keep it all in some sense of order by Noleen's mother.


But the overall impact in this novel comes from the use by Molloy of little Noleen's five year old Dublin voice with the vernacular for extra effect. It is there in the opening page as she heads off to the Gate with her family to 'see the dancers' with her 'electricky hair' and her shoes going 'clack-clack-clack'. Subtitled "Dublin Savage", the reader does not need to read far into the novel to understand this. With her little gang in Stephen's Green and her brother challenging her to repeat swear words, she does appear to be a savage little child. Living just off Merrion Row, the city is her playground and her parents friends are the Dublin characters she grows up with. But this is about the fall of a family and it is a tragic fall from grace of a husband and father, something Molloy has presumably tried to explore and come to terms with through the telling of her tale in a novel form.

The unique voice of little Noleen will either delight or grate on the reader and this is the risk taken by a writer of such an approach. It is certainly a tale that will appeal to those who wish to know how the city was in the late 60s as well as those who remember those days and will read with maybe some tender reminiscence for the time.

Smarty Girl is published by Gemma a US publisher
It can be ordered from Amazon

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