This collection of short stories features characters leading lives of disaffection and uncertain futures, echoing the alienation and uneasy atmosphere of rural Irish communities in the post-boom transition years. The pervading mood of melancholy does not, however, make for a depressing read, as it is offset by a wry sense of humour and stoic determination, while the untied loose endings leave room for the possibility of hope.
'The trouble with the men around here, Alice, is that they all know you.'
'I thought I might go up to Dublin,' Alice said.
Marion shook her head. 'Too dangerous.'
'Too many time-wasters.'
Alice felt the morning’s hope begin to curdle in her stomach. She tried again. 'I could go to a nightclub.'
'On your own?'
Marion was talking with her mouthful. 'There’s a lot expected of a girl nowadays.' She gave Alice a meaningful look. 'Stuff you’ve never even heard of.'
Marion, Alice thought, was talking as if she was the only one in this town who ever had sex. Talking as if she knew all about Alice. Alice wanted to tell Marion that last night she had made love out the back of the Town Hall to a sound engineer from somewhere foreign, tattoos all over his body. She hadn’t of course. Last night Alice had fallen asleep in an armchair and had woken cold and cramped in the small hours, a mug of tea on the table beside her. The truth was that Alice had not slept with a man in four years. And Marion, like everybody else in this town, really did know all about Alice.
From All About Alice