An Irishwoman recalls years of travel in this breezy if flawed debut memoir by Doolan-Fox.
Doolan-Fox spent her earliest years living in North London, although her memories of Tottenham are sparse. When her Irish parents returned to Dublin in 1969, Ann, then a wide-eyed 6-year-old, stepped off the boat “seeing everything…in such gigantic form.” She had a modest upbringing and a father who was suffocatingly dictatorial. Her early stories of Dublin are laden with charm, such as when Bono, soon to be frontman of the band U2, would walk by her house each day on his way to school, bearing a downcast expression. Her father’s strictness eventually led her to run away from home at 18 to seek work in London before heading to Milan, where she made a living as a babysitter and a teacher’s assistant. Her wanderlust then took her to Paris, Madrid, New York, and Birmingham, England, before she found a prestigious job working in a patent office in The Hague, Netherlands, where she met her future husband, a U.S. airman. Doolan-Fox’s personable prose oozes with a passion for travel and a distracting penchant for ellipses and exclamation marks: “Gracias Espana!!! Although New York was calling, I would actually return to Madrid just a year later….You will just have to read on to find out how and why…..!!” Disappointingly, her descriptive techniques rely heavily on clichés (on New York: “I have never seen so many throngs of people, spilling out of concrete towers like ants rushing around in every direction”). She also tends to rely on films to convey context or emotion: “It felt for a moment like I had just signed my Life over to a religious sect or something. Have you ever seen the movie ‘The Firm’ with Tom Cruise?”
A colorful, enthusiastic, if not especially original, approach to globe-trotting.