The Faraday Girls

By Monica McInerney

THERE'S an old Chinese proverb - no family can hang out the sign: "Nothing the matter here." Twenty years after her unconventional upbringing by a fleet of formidable aunts, Maggie Faraday is (happily) living alone in New York City when she receives a surprise visit from her grandfather Leo.

As in all the best stories, he comes bearing a revelation and a proposition - he's preparing a gift for his daughters and he needs Maggie's help. Every family has its secrets and - as Maggie finds to her mounting incredulity - her family appears to have more than most. Each of the women she thought she knew turns out to have plenty to hide.

In her new novel, best selling author McInerney charts the hearts infinite vicissitudes, and the thoroughly rocky road to redemption.

Random House $13.95.

My Lady Judge

By Cora Harrison

IN Cora Harrison's new mystery novel, set on Ireland's west coast in 1509, the bodies begin to pile up almost immediately, and for once it's not the work of the invading English churls. In her historical whodunit, Harrison blends traditional (and impressively progressive) Irish Brehon Law with modern psychological detective work and crafts a story about a 16th century Irish woman judge who sets out to solve the murder of her own legal assistant.

Who killed him? Why? When our hero sets out to answer these vexing questions she discovers that more than just her own life may be in danger.

St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95.

Every Dark Hour: A History of Kilmainham Jail

By Niamh O'Sullivan

KILMAINHAM Jail, or Ireland's Bastille as it is known in some quarters, was a dreaded and dreadful place of incarceration since its construction in the late 18th century. And few people know its history and character better than Niamh O'Sullivan, a barrister who first fell under the building's spell when she brought some visiting relatives there in 1982.

Later she took a position as an official guide, eventually working in the jail's archives in 1992. The story she recounts is remarkable. During the Famine for example, she tells us of nine-year-old Winifred Carroll, a young girl who stole bread simply to be imprisoned (in the hope of a steady meal).

Literally hundreds of children (and both adult men and women) were imprisoned - and often executed - there over its long history. Perhaps most strikingly, O'Sullivan presents her personal impressions of the jail (with its 40 shades of grey) as well as painting vivid accounts of the men and women who gave their time to restore and preserve its historical legacy since the 1980's.

Liberties Press $14.99.

Hungry Hill

By Carole O'Malley Gaunt

WHEN her mother died in 1959 the author of this memoir was just 13 and thoroughly shell-shocked to find herself unofficially appointed parent and guardian to her seven male siblings. In this deeply poignant memoir, she recalls the next four chaotic years in the life of her alcoholic father and the unruly brood she is saddled with (at far too tender an age).

By the time she reached her mid-teens she had already notched up more hard life lessons than most women twice her age. Told without a trace of self-pity, the author recounts a coming of age tale that will ring familiar to many readers - what happens to an individual when he or she finds themselves becoming the emotional center of their rapidly imploding family?

University of Massa-chusetts Press $19.95.

Bridges From Legaginney

By Finbarr M. Corr

HAILING from a family that had supplied generations of parish priests, Finbarr Corr finds himself making the dramatic midlife transition from pastoral leader of a vibrant parish to married man and family therapist.

From the moment he first set eyes on an attractive young lady at his parish welcoming party he became a man who believed in love at first sight. A real life version of The Thorn Birds, Father Finbarr must contend with the biggest decision of his life: continue the priesthood or leave to marry the woman he secretly loved?

A sequel to his widely read first book A Kid From Legaginney, fans who want to know what happened after he left St. Patrick's College and his years in the seminary will find the answers here at last.

FMC Press, $14.95.