In this latest instalment of Martha Long's real-life account of abuse, deprivation and cruelty at the hands of her mother's partner and the establishment, Martha is now 16 and her time at the convent school is up. In Ma, It's a Cold Aul Night an I'm Lookin for a Bed, she leads us through her first months of freedom. With no home to go to, Martha leaves the convent carrying her suitcase and a burning ambition to shake off her impoverished past. Hungry to become a person who will blend in with the middle classes, Martha yearns to be accepted as someone who can be loved, respected, and one day have a home of her own where she will be safe. But this is 1960s Dublin, where poverty is rife and the Church works together with the Irish government to keep the poor and the ignorant in their place. Martha first finds work as a home help with a loving, lively family, which leads her to a job in a shop, an Italian fish and chip café, then as a skivvy in a miserable household where she is reminded of the terror Jackser brought into her life. Chance meetings with brothers and old friends from the convent lift Martha's spirits, but soon she is back on the streets searching for work and a warm bed to call her own. Martha is not often deterred when fate deals her a blow. 'Life is a bowl of cherries!' she reasons. But heartache awaits as people turn her away and predators lurk in the shadows.
Lilly and Ceily Carney are only seven and twelve when their mother is cruelly taken from them, leaving them at the mercy of the Church and the authorities. This is a terrifying prospect in 1950s Dublin, where it is likely that the girls will end up in one of Ireland’s notorious Magdalen laundries – a fate they are determined to escape. When Father Flitters and the ‘Cruelty’ people arrive to take the children into care, Lilly and Ceily resist, and a riot breaks out. The girls are helped by kind Mister Mullins and his daughter Delia, but events lead to further tragedy and Lilly is left to fend for herself on the dangerous streets. Heartbroken, hungry and vulnerable, she looks like easy prey and it seems there will be no safe haven for her to find.
After a failed suicide attempt and recovery in the mad house, Martha is heading for France to be reunited with the one true love of her life. Father Ralph Fitzgerald rescued her from the streets when she was sixteen and was the first person to show Martha true love and affection. But their relationship threatened his vocation and he eventually fled to Africa to take up missionary work. Martha never got over losing him and now, after nearly twenty years, he has made contact again. She sets off on a mission to find him and uncover his motives for getting in touch. Does he still love her? Has he left the priesthood? Is he now free to marry her? She needs to know what the future is going to hold.
In 2003 I was given the opportunity to go to China to teach English. I had a contract for one year. I realized that life in China was more interesting than anything I had experienced before so I stayed. This book contains many antidotes and stories about what happened to me, around me and in China generally. This is a first-hand view of everyday life in China.
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO GROW UP... This is the story of SCOTT, who finds his belongings outside in a bin bag one day and realises he may have made a Big Mistake GAIL, who wishes her husband were under guarantee so she could send him back and get a refund NAT, who discovers that growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be ROSIE, who just wants her Dad back - or if not, then at least some new glitter nail polish. Four lives, one story: love, loss and learning to be a grown-up.
Set in Belfast after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000, this is a novel about the intertwined relationship between the establishment and street criminals during this periodDonny Campbell is an infamous paramilitary figure, who is a reflection of a violent society. He is sexually repressed and vents his anger and sexual frustration in a cocktail of violence and warped depravity, ultimately hidden in a world where murder and immorality are almost considered normal. Donny finds a kindred spirit in Lord Roddy Harding, a man working in the highest echelons of Ulster and London society. Their relationship fractures when Donny becomes a liability as he becomes increasingly unstable and reckless. The British state assassinate Campbell, and by dispatching one of its prolific foot soldiers maintain a fragile peace, save Harding's reputation and that of the Government.
At school in the late 1960s a Ghanaian fellow pupil brought to Richard Laister's attention the historic links between the West Indies, West Africa, the Atlantic slave trade, and the Voodoo religion. Forty years later, the author slipped away to explore these historic connections. In this book he describes a series of extended journeys above the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, focussing on Voodoo as a lens through which to observe the traditional ways of life still practised in this part of the world. Ghana, Togo, Burkino Faso and Benin remain, so he discovers, hardly touched by Western tourism and the cultural steamroller of globalisation. Arriving in Accra, Richard is welcomed by a retired colonel of the Ghanaian army, who is the first of several West Africans he meets to lament the passing of colonial rule. The Colonel provides a rare opportunity to attend a Voodoo funeral, where the corpse, dressed as a bride, is seated upon a throne to receive her guests. Here the author first discovers, Legba, god of entrances, crossroads, mirrors, and sunlight - a divine messenger, trickster, and Janus-faced herald of joy and terror. The funeral is a prelude to a series of adventures, in which comical and macabre incidents combine to form a unique West African mix. In every village the author finds sacrificial altars dedicated to Legba, who emerges as a universal object of veneration. From Ghana, Richard busses north to Ouagadougou, and then to Benin, heartland of Voodoo, where he receives a blessing from a powerful sorcerer. He survives a riot in Lome, Togo, in which there are many casualties, only to visit the President of the Republic's palace - a mysterious mock French chateau, whose owner has not crossed its portal for 20 years due to a curse. The author's odyssey through West Africa leads him to question rational interpretations of reality, reminding us of Scipio Africanus who more than 2,000 years ago declared, 'Out of Africa, always something strange emerges!'