A store of riches from a writer at her best

Eilis Ni Dhuibhne’s stories are widely acclaimed for their acute perception of Irish women’s lives This volume of short stories, most of them from previously published collections, spans almost 30 years of Eilis Ni Dhuibhne’s work, from the first story here, Blood and Water published in 1988, through to the last, The Coast of Wales, first published in The Long Gaze Back in 2015. The settings in time and place vary, from rural and suburban Ireland to the US and the UK, from the aftermath of the Famine to the aftermath of the Tiger, but her themes of repression, of humiliation and guilt, inferiority and secrecy, and of grief and love in all its forms remain like quiet linchpins holding this sweeping collection together. Blood and Water – beautifully crafted and shocking, describes the scald of shame felt by its young protagonist at having a relative who is mildly retarded. Mary describes idyllic childhood summer holidays with her family in her Aunt Annie’s house in Donegal. Aunt Annie was "lucky" to have been born in 1925, when being "slow" was simply accepted – she was described as "delicate" – but she at least lived a normal life in the […]

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