Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey
As children do, Tatty both knows and doesn’t know about her parents’ limitations – or perhaps the limitations of the situation they find themselves in. Both would like to be better people but, with no adult confidants, the drink makes a bad situation worse. Yet Tatty’s humour, optimism and charm makes for enjoyable company; it’s a lovely novel about tragic characters with all too believable flaws.
Having read the author’s two most recent novels – The Narrow Land, set in 1950 in Cape Cod, published by Atlantic Books, a beautifully written story of war orphans, bickering spouses, loneliness and our struggles to connect was one of my favourite reads of 2019 – I was keen to hear her speak at a lockdown literary event this summer, hosted by Nottingham City of Literature and Five Leaves Bookshop. When she read from Tatty, her fourth novel which first appeared in 2004 but republished this year by New Island Books for Dublin’s One City One Book project, I had to order a copy.
There’s a child as one of three narrative points of view in my own second novel, Underneath. (Click on the image to learn more.)
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante translated by
We follow Giovanna through the streets and friendships as she yo-yos between the two parts of the city, or is it between two different ways of being? She rebels against Vittoria almost as much as she rebels against her parents, whose imminent separation, stemming from infidelity, feels like betrayal, and no doubt exacerbates the ordinary adolescent uncertainties. Can she sees together a separate self from these fragments?
Although I knew of the author through her bestselling Neapolitan Quartet, that begins with My Brilliant Friend, I’d not read any of her fiction, so was delighted to receive a review copy of her latest novel through British publishers, Europa editions. Although I enjoyed it, I can’t say I’m a convert to her huge fan base.
If you’re interested in fictional adolescence, you might enjoy my own debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman looking back on a teenage trajectory even more turbulent than Giovanna’s. (Click on the image to learn more.)