By Denise Turney
The Mammy is one of the best books I have read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad I happened upon it while browsing through a local bookstore during the 2004 winter holidays. The Mammy is both heartwarming and funny. I found myself laughing outright while reading parts of the story that is set in Ireland.
The book begins with Agnes, a strong Irish mother, and her good friend, Marion, going to the Department of Social Welfare to submit claim papers after Agnes’ abusive husband passes. Left with seven children to raise as a single parent, Agnes doesn’t back down even when the woman at the Department attempts to belittle her. It is also evident, at the very start of the story that Agnes has a powerful sense of humor, a resource that gives her enough strength to find her way through each challenging situation she’s faced with. The friendship between Agnes and Marion, another woman who lost her husband to death, is unforgettable. Brendan O’Carroll does a splendid job of illustrating and fleshing out the relationship these two characters share. Given that The Mammy is less than two hundred pages long, I find it a sign of artistic genius that each character is so well developed by story’s end.
The Mammy, a term similar to “Mama” or “Mommy” elicits a broad array of emotions from its readers. I laughed, nearly cried and became angry while reading this poignant story. One scene that stood out to me involved one of Agnes’ daughters and the girl’s Catholic school teacher. It was 1967 and the girl had left the school grounds to change her underwear before the doctor arrived to examine the students. It is the doctor who helps Agnes’ daughter sneak back inside the school grounds. Howbeit, no sooner is the girl back at school that the head mistress calls for her. A stern woman who will not be questioned, the head mistress becomes at once angry when the girl greets her with silence after she asks her if she departed the school grounds. Before long the girl’s face is flush. The teacher struck her hard across the jaw. The girl’s reaction (a tight fisted punch) gains her hard punishment; the teacher grabs a pair of scissors and cuts the girl’s hair off. When Agnes discovers her daughter’s hair has been cut by her school teacher she is not amused. Her reaction lands her in court, but as chance would have it, her court appearance (comical and sincere) set in order much needed disciplinary rules at the school.
The story ends during the Christmas season. The season’s charm hovers over the story like fairy tale dust.
It is no surprise that The Mammy was a #1 bestseller. Readers from all walks of life can readily relate to this heart-touching book. The Mammy is guaranteed to give laughs, warmth and insight. It has become one of my all-time favorite books. I think fans of great literature will find it equally appealing.
Denise Turney is the author of Portia, Love Has Many Faces and Spiral. Ask for Denise’s new book, SPIRAL, at bookstores now!! Visit Denise online at www.chistell.com