Books by Elaine Crowley

A DUBLIN GIRL by Elaine Crowley
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 25, 1998

This memoir of a Dublin girlhood is well written but lacks immediacy. Novelist Crowley (The Ways of Women, 1993, etc.) matter-of- factly recounts her growing up in the slums of Dublin, from an inner-city tenement to a project house outside the center of the city. Hunger does not figureher father has a steady job as a hearse driver, but it is Crowley's mother's determination that provides for her family, as she sometimes visits the pawnbroker or the moneylender. It is hard not to draw comparisons between Crowley's Dublin and Frank McCourt's Limerick. Both authors recount 1930s childhoods in the slums of Irish cities under the specter of tuberculosis. As firstborn children, Crowley and McCourt were both expected early in adolescence to share in the responsibility for their family's support. McCourt's success, however, is hard to follow. Crowley's writing is adequate, but it is by no means as vivid as McCourt's. She keeps her readers at a distance, rather than involving them in the action. What does stand out in Crowley's narrative is her unwavering love for her father and, at least in childhood, her lack of compassion for her mother, who in typical Irish fashion is the backbone of her family. Her father's affair with a younger woman almost causes him to leave the family. However, the prevailing social code of the time is stunning: Crowley's mother reveals the affair to the young woman's aunt, thus putting a stop to her husband's plans. Her mother's forbearance of her husband's unfaithfulness and the beating he gives her upon learning she has thwarted his escape would appear saintly to any reader, but Crowley faults her mother for not being forgiving enough. Her father is doomed, though, and ends up with tuberculosis. A childhood affectingly told, though without sufficient intimacy. Read full book review >
THE WAYS OF WOMEN by Elaine Crowley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 15, 1993

A dramatic story of Ireland in revolt in the years after WW I that should appeal to fans of Maeve Binchy's intimate portrait of Irish village life and plucky Irishwomen. Julia Mangan and Sarah Quinlan are best friends in a poor Dublin neighborhood during the troubled 20's, when the IRA is beginning to agitate and the Anglo-Irish gentry inhabiting the big houses are feeling threatened after centuries of unquestioned privilege. Julia marries Jack Harte, newly home from the war, and is blissfully happy, living with her beloved husband among friends on the street where she grew up. Soon she has a baby, Ellie. But Sarah longs for grander things. Filled with her mother's tales of the years she spent as maid to Lady Glenivy of Glenivy Manor, Sarah takes a position as a servant there, only to find her position humiliating and prospectless. Things seem to take a turn for the better, however, when young Patrick Glenivy begins to visit her bedroom at night. In only a month Sarah is pregnant, cast off by Patrick, and banished from Glenivy. Quickly she takes up with her old Dublin boyfriend and makes him believe the baby she's carrying is his; they marry and she plots other ways to achieve her dreams of grandeur. With cold malice, she leaks false information to those who will pay for it that her friend Julia's husband, Jack, has been sheltering IRA fugitives; Jack is taken to the mountain by British thugs and shot. Years later, Patrick, the illegitimate son of Sarah and the young master of Glenivy, and Julia's daughter Ellie fall in love, opening the wound in Julia's heart that time has never fully healed. Julia must choose between cutting off her beloved daughter or accepting as her son-in-law the child of her husband's betrayers. Marred by a few improbable coincidences, but, still, an absorbing tale with the unique lilt and expansiveness of Irish storytelling. Read full book review >