NELLIE by Brigitte Downey


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Dreary miseries and pratfalls of home and heart, trudged through by 14-year-old Nellie Flanagan--but frequently enlivened by narrator Nellie's gooseberry-tart tongue and flashy wisecracks. Nellie lives with her roam and dad (""no chandeliers of intelligence""), her widower Granddad, and her two piggish brothers in the village of Dun-mo-Croi, ""perched on a mouldy little hill in the West of Ireland. . . nothing around but brown bogs, sullen mountains, and soggy fields."" And up until the summer of 1981 Granddad is content to work--with Nellie's major assistance--on assorted losing projects, spending afternoons with his retired chum Mike Too. But then suddenly Granddad falls in love, besotted by elderly widow Belinda Cunningham, known locally as the ""old Brit."" (She has rented a cottage to paint pictures of Dun-mo-Croi's doubtful charms.) Furthermore, while Granddad is making a proper jackass of himself over the old Brit, Nellie finds herself--for no reason at all--in love with Danny Flynn, the publican's son, who has to spend the summer painting his dad's place of business a shade of green Nellie calls ""cream of bile."" Does Danny love her in return? Nellie is sure he does. Nonetheless, she takes spears through the heart--when Danny asks miserable Nancy to dance at a village celebration, when he responds to Nellie's confession-of-love at the dog races. (""I'll say one thing for you,"" crows Danny, ""You're always good for a laugh!"") And the summer will also bring the death of old Mike Too (""I just wish he were alive so I could think of him again as a bloody pest, a pain, a bore"")--before September arrives, the group sighing reaches ""gale force"" in Dun-mo-Croi, and the return to school reveals perfidious Nancy. . . glowing like ""radioactive shit."" Lumpish teenage doings overall, delightfully relieved here and there by a lively gleam of fangs.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's