Today, I am a blog tour stop for the book Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen. Happy Publication Day to the book. The book appealed to me for a few reasons when I was first invited to the blog tour – the setting (place and time – Ireland during the Troubles – and I had no inkling of what the Troubles were); the description of the characters; and then something about it that knew it will take me a bit out of my comfort zone (and it has been a while since I attempted reading anything out of my comfort zone).
And now, I am glad I am reading it. Yes, I am still reading it for I got a much later start on it than planned. But read on for my thoughts so far on this book.
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Factory Girls: Blog Tour and Book Review
Thank you to Algonquin Books for inviting me on this blog tour for Factory Girls by by Michelle Gallen.
Title: Factory Girls
Author: Michelle Gallen
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Literary Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books (Nov 29, 2022)
Get it here: Amazon
A funny, fierce, and unforgettable read about a young woman working a summer job in a shirt factory in Northern Ireland, while tensions rise both inside and outside the factory walls.
It’s the summer of 1994, and all smart-mouthed Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles. She hopes she will soon be in London studying journalism—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the violence of her divided community.
As a first step, Maeve’s taken a job in a shirt factory working alongside Protestants with her best friends. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Handy Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. Then, as the British loyalist marching season raises tensions among the Catholic and Protestant workforce, Maeve realizes something is going on behind the scenes at the factory. What seems to be a great opportunity to earn money turns out to be a crucible in which Maeve faces the test of a lifetime. Seeking justice for herself and her fellow workers may just be Maeve’s one-way ticket out of town.
Bitingly hilarious, clear-eyed, and steeped in the vernacular of its time and place, Factory Girls tackles questions of wealth and power, religion and nationalism, and how young women maintain hope for themselves and the future during divided, violent times.
The Very First Thoughts – One Page into the Book
Raw and honest.
And then the rest
While the language in the book is colorful (in many ways) and not something I am normally used to, there is an underlying sense of heart and strength and even dark humor that comes through or maybe, permeates the pages with a matte-like finish – reminiscent of the age and beautiful in its own way – unlike glossy prints, which shine and shimmer.
Maeve is not someone who knows pretense and speaks her mind, quite colorfully and vocally too. While her friends are each so very different from her and each other that I wonder at their friendship. And then I recall some of my own friendships, and know it is possible!
To be honest, I started reading this book later than I expected to, and have had to look up words very so often (Irish dialect usage and even other words that show up in unexpected places to make me rethink their meanings but am as a result now finding delightful ways I can use familiar words) that I am taking longer to finish. So I am a third of the way through this book at the time of this blog tour stop. But I know I will finish it pretty soon! For it intrigues me.
And while the book might cause me to give it a ‘R’ or TV-MA rating in terms of the colorful, no-holds-barred language, it is riveting and as I already mentioned, so very honest. And the character development so far, as well as the story of the Troubles (which I had not read about before), and of course, the obvious location (due to the story) all have kept me reading and invested in the book.
A book for those who enjoy fiction based on real events (maybe this is not historical fiction as it set closer to the current times, but definitely will find itself in the list of cool powerful historical fiction reads sometime in the future.) And I would rather hope that history teaches us through these books at the least.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read this book? Or any other book set in Ireland during the Troubles? Or does the description of this book spark memories of any other book that you would love to share with me?
I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations, as always.