Rural Ireland in the 1960s: if you were a boy, you listened to the radio and went to the pictures. Your mam ruled the house and your father flew into rages. You knew your village and everyone in it. And Tony did, until he saw his father with Mrs Rourke and had an accident that changed everything.
Rural Ireland in the 1960s: if you were a boy, you listened to Luxembourg on the wireless, went to the pictures, went hurling up the fields with your best friend, thought about what the big boys got up to with the girls, and in particular what your brother did with his girlfriend, Minnie. Your mam ruled the house and you watched out for your father - the old lad - who was liable to fly into rages and give you a right ringer when you weren't expecting it. Most of all, you knew everything about the village where you lived, and everyone there. And Tony did; he was one smart boy, ready for anything - at least he thought he was until the day he saw his father with Mrs Rourke and was involved in an accident that changed everything. Dancing with Minnie the Twig is Tony's story. It is a haunting and very special novel as, on the day of his funeral, he watches his family, friends and the rest of the community arrive at the church and prepare for the service to mark the end of his short life. In terms of its rural setting and its focus on a small community that, even in Ireland, has long since ceased to exist, the book has real echoes of Dancing at Lughnasa. It's Irish in the best sense of the word; the characters step out of the pages to meet you, and although Tony is dead, his narrative voice blazes with life. Very funny in parts, the novel is overlaid with a melancholy for times past that lingers long after the final page has been turned.
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A remarkable first novel from Irish writer Mogue Doyle - fresh, imaginative and brimming with childhood insight. Set in rural Ireland during the 1960s, it is one boy's view of his childhood from his first memories to his early teens. The household is ruled with an iron hand by the 'old lad', his father. His long-suffering mam is the comfort pillow for little Tony, his elder brother Aidan and younger sister Cissy. His father's rages and easy temper overshadow the sensitive Tony's childhood, bringing out an anger in him that he has yet to recognise as his fathers, at the unfairness of his mam's life. His best friend, Mikey, who lives down the road, has no such problems. An angelic cherub with his dark curls, he elicits female attention from his first day at school much to the chagrin of Tony. Together they learn about life in the small village in which they live: school days, local hurling matches and general young lad's mischief. However, it is through this mischievousness that the road to tragedy is begun. Intrigued by sex and what it is, Mikey discovers the widow Rourke, a woman not averse to giving sexual favours to the men in the area. He also discovers a way of watching the proceedings from within the house itself and it is that reveals a family secret that Tony cannot hide from. From the opening chapter, set at a funeral, the novel grips the reader with its lilting, almost hypnotic, words, painting a picture of the characters and era so common at that time in the Irish countryside. A haunting tale, which will tally in the mind long after the last page has been reached, it is an extraordinary work from someone who has never written before. - Lucy Watson
About Mogue Doyle
Mogue Doyle is in his fifties and has always lived in Co Wexford, where this novel is set. He has been in the building trade all his life. Dancing with Minnie the Twig is the first thing he has ever written.
Dancing With Minnie The Twig by Mogue Doyle
Used - Very Good
Transworld Publishers Ltd
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