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 From the author of I Shouldn't Be Telling You This (1983): a gently wicked sendup of contemporary Irish life that takes on a lot of sacred and profane cows as well. It's only a few weeks before Christmas, but Dublin--overtaxed, nearly bankrupt, and still priest-ridden--is not a very joyous place. After three elections in three years, the current government fears another; ultra-Catholic columnist Rupert Penrose plots feverishly to get the Kerrygold Chair of Irish Literature at the City University--as does unfrocked priest and iconoclastic scholar Dennis McDermott; Donal McGaffney helps the IRA because business is bad; and the new papal nuncio, an Italian, is finding the food, the weather, and his assistant, Bishop Meany, a great trial. Which is not to forget beautiful Moira McNamara, a member of the Unemployed Feminists, who works unpaid for Deirdre Fanning, Minister for Women's Affairs and cautious advocate of abortion and divorce. The whole mix is stirred further when the image of the Virgin Mary suddenly appears in Penrose's bedroom just as he is about to seduce a young woman. The image is peripatetic, moving to a bar--a disaster for the regulars; to the McGaffney garage; even into a Protestant's kitchen. Meanwhile, the first female Vice-President of the US, Honor Houlihan, insists on a visit. Bad news for the government, which fears the outspoken Houlihan will talk about abortion. She's also guarded by Secret Service agent O'Leary, who not only falls for Moira McNamara, but perspicaciously declares Ireland to be ``the safest place on earth [because] it's got the highest per capita incidence of individual self-destruction.'' An observation borne out at the grand finale party that, in typical opÇra bouffe style, ties up all the loose ends--though somewhat explosively. Breasted not only offers right-on-the button humor--but she's an acute observer of life in that often aggravating but always appealing Emerald Isle.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-374-29007-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993