Anxious times often require a savior. Here's two new Irish books to inspire you. Enter Mollie On The March, by Ann Carey and Home For Christmas,
by Alice Taylor.
Mollie On The March
By Ann Carey
At first glance Mollie Carberry is really no one's idea of a hero. A histrionic teenager in Dublin in 1912, when Ireland was still a part of the United Kingdom, she's an ardent if naive campaigner (with her best friend Nora) for the right for women to vote.
That noble ambition makes Mollie a suffragette, after a fashion (she's a bit young to be out on the streets agitating for civil rights she realizes, but what she lacks in years she makes up for in spirit).
What Anna Carey's Mollie On The March gets right from the first page is her character's unflagging certainty that she's doing the right thing (and how could she not be certain)?
Along the way to the major social transformation that she's seeking (which makes the Ireland of 1912 the cousin to 2018) she has a big fight on her hands with the government that requires complete dedication. Luckily, that's Mollie's modus operandi all the way down to her polished leather boots.
Finding her place in the world as she fights for her place in society, Mollie has to contend with everyday evils like her awful brother and Nora's ghastly cousin, and lets not forget her neighbors very annoying dog.
If she sounds a bit young, that's intentional. If she sounds middle class in her attitude and outlook that's because she is. Part of Mollie's enduring struggle in the book is to be taken seriously by her elders, who scoff at her claim that she and her friend are suffragettes.
Luckily equality is a bigger issue than who's fighting to achieve it and you will root for Carey's spirited character as she finds her way. You'll learn something about the time she lived in too, for example that not only were women not permitted to vote, of you were a man who didn't own property of have a fortune above a certain amount you were disenfranchised too. Religion, nationality and economic clout were weaponized then as they are now, albeit in different ways.
Written for senior children in a lively prose style that captures all the rollercoaster emotions of adolescence without a hint of condescension, what sustains the book is Mollie's good heart, which is a lesson that we never stop needing to heed.
Home For Christmas
By Alice Taylor
Home, the word, and home the place have a near mythic resonance to the Irish.
You'll hear Irish songs about leaving home, songs about missing home and songs about trying to find a new home away from home everywhere in our centuries long song book.
Christmas has a similar pull on our communal heart strings, being one of the most Irish moments of the year, a time full of hope and yearning simultaneously. It really suits us.
Some people plan for their Christmas holidays as though they were anticipating a royal visit. They get started six months in advance with all their puddings and cakes. Writer Alice Taylor is one of these dedicated types. In Home For Christmas she explores the Irish traditions of the seasons in a book that's bright and cheery as a Christmas fire.
From going on safari in the woods for holly with berries on Holly Sunday, always a pre-Chistamas adventure, to the pre-Christmas clear up to make way for a tree and decorations, Taylor reaches back into family (and folk) lore to paint a true picture of the season.
We do it for the ones we love, we gather to celebrate a passing moment in time, and we eat and sing together because that's what families do. The older family members know that it's Christmas, not Halloween, when the ghosts truly gather. The younger ones who have traveled overseas know, many to make new homes, know it's the one time of the year they may see faces they won't for eleven months or perhaps for years. All the moments and impulses that make a memorable Christmas are contained within this charming book.