Set in Ireland, these short stories make for grim reading and the author doesn't hold back on any subject matter. This is actually a refreshing change - and that events such as child abuse and Catholic priests falling in love, really do happen. Each story is so realistic that they sent shivers down my spine. They're easy to read as the writing style is so matter-of-fact. A cheery anthology this isn't - but convincing it is.
Your eldest sister was sent off to the finest boarding school in Ireland, and became a school teacher. Eugene was gifted in school but when he turned fourteen your father pulled him out to work the land. In the photographs the eldest are dressed up: satin ribbons and short trousers, a blinding sun in their eyes. The others just came along, as nature took its course, were fed and clothed, sent off to the boarding schools. Sometimes they came back for a bank holiday weekend. They brought gifts and an optimism that quickly waned. You could see them remembering everything, the existence, turning rigid when your father's shadow crossed the floor. Leaving, they'd feel cured, impatient to get away.
Your turn at boarding school never came. By then your father saw no point in educating girls; you'd go off and another man would have the benefit of your education. If you were sent to the day school you could help in the house, the yard. Your father moved into the other room but your mother gave him sex on his birthday. She's go into his room and they'd have it there. It never took long and they never made noise but your knew. And then that too stopped and you were sent instead, to sleep with your father. It happened once a month or so, and always when Eugene was out.