This Family Of Small Things by Alison Jameson

Transworld  June 8th 2017

Tullyvin, a small town in County Wicklow, Ireland is the setting for this novel.

Midge Connor, at the age of 21, is the only child still at home. Her father, an alcoholic, regularly doling out physical abuse to Midge’s mother. The mother washes dishes in the local Italian restaurant, drowning her sorrows in booze. Neither has the time for Midge who drifts aimlessly seeming without any direction or idea of a future.

On the other side of town live sister Margaret and Olive, two spinsters comfortable living side by side.

Up the hill their brother Bird, his whole life consumed by the family farm, totally introvert rarely conversing or interacting with the people of Tullyvin.

Tragedy strikes and Bird finds Midge curled up in tight ball outside his farm changing his life and those around him.

The characters are wonderfully portrayed.

Midge, mentally scarred from years of living in an abusive home, vulnerable and unloved, totally at odds with the world.

Margaret, devastated after a broken engagement many years ago, unwilling to open up and trust anyone. Olive, bubbly and vivacious but somehow tied to Margaret.

My favourite character has to be Bird. Wild unkempt hair and beard, totally serious, a loner, a deep thinker, wrapped up in the farm. I didn’t feel any pity or sorrow for his lonely existence but wanted to nurture him and bring him out of his shell.

Throughout the novel Jameson skilfully unwraps the characters, giving us access to their innermost thoughts and emotions as their actions and those of others impact on their lives.

You cannot help but become totally emotionally immersed and at times I found I had to wipe away the odd tear from my eyes!

Whilst the characters are at the heart of this novel, the imagery Jameson’s writing invokes are nothing but complimentary to their actions and emotions. The use of location, particularly a small town in Ireland where everyone knows everyone’s business and the claustrophobia this can generate added to the drama and tension.

It is a novel that will break your heart but will also fill you with hope.

This novel is simply beautiful and I loved it.

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