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Belfast Girls Paperback – July 20, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Gerry McCullough has been writing poems and stories since childhood. Brought up in north Belfast, she graduated in English and Philosophy from Queen's University, Belfast, then went on to gain an MA in English. She lives just outside Belfast, in Northern Ireland, has four grown up children and is married to author, media producer and broadcaster, Raymond McCullough, with whom she co-edited the Irish magazine, 'Bread', (published by Kingdom Come Trust), from 1990-96. In 1995 they published a non-fiction book called, 'Ireland – now the good news!' Over the past few years Gerry has had more than fifty short stories published in UK, Irish and American magazines, anthologies and annuals – as well as broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. Her poems and articles have been published in several Northern Ireland and UK magazines, and she has also done readings from her novels, poems and short stories at several Irish literary events. She writes a regular literary blog – Gerry's Books – and guest writes for several other literary blogs. Gerry won the Cúirt International Literary Award for 2005 (Galway); was shortlisted for the 2008 Brian Moore Award (Belfast); shortlisted for the 2009 Cúirt Award; and commended in the 2009 Seán O'Faolain Short Story Competition, (Cork). Gerry currently has three full-length Irish thriller/romance novels available, plus a short story collection and a YA time travel adventure:- Belfast Girls - November 2010 (Night Publishing, UK/2012 Precious Oil) Danger, Danger - October 2011 (Precious Oil Publications) Angel in Flight: an Angel Murphy thriller - June 2012 (Precious Oil) The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus - January 2012 (Precious Oil) (previously published in an Irish weekly magazine) Lady Molly & The Snapper – August 2012 (Precious Oil) The Cúirt Award-winning story, 'Primroses,' and the Seán O'Faolain commended story, 'Giving Up,' have been extended and re-written as part of a series of eight more serious Irish short stories – to be published in the near future. Also in the pipeline is, 'Not the End of the World' – a humorous, futuristic, adult fantasy novel – coming soon from Precious Oil.
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Top customer reviews
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Most of the book centered around Sheila, who's fairytale story is disappointingly cliche and not very believable. I wonder if the author did any research on the fashion industry? I couldn't really sympathize with Sheila, who apparently has no sense, and no boundaries. She's madly in love with John, yet can't seem to keep other men from grabbing/kissing and/or nearly raping her. She can hardly keep her boss Delmara at bay, who I found sickeningly condescending, constantly calling Sheila "beautiful" as if she didn't have a name. I wanted to slap him. There were a few times when Shiela showed some fortitude, like certain moments during the kidnapping, but ultimately she'd revert back to being frustratingly passive and submissive. Ugh.
Phil is slightly more sympathetic, yet such a sad young woman with clearly no self esteem. I don't get what she sees in her drug dealing boyfriend, Davy, who seems to have no redeeming qualities. Her loyalty and commitment to him is exasperating, especially when she takes the fall for his crimes. And how could he possibly not know she had been arrested, nor ever learn the circumstances that landed her in prison? Doesn't he read the paper? Have friends? What about the internet? In this novel where everybody seems to have a connection with everybody else, his total ignorance of her circumstances strikes me as very unlikely. This thread is even less believable than Sheila's fantastic modeling career. I did feel for Phil, though, and wonder what might have become of her in an epilogue.
Mary's story showed promise, but unfortunately was barely developed. Arguably the most touching scene in the book is when Mary receives Phil's confession in prison. So much more could have been filled in about Mary's life.
All in all, the novel moved along at a decent pace, although I found myself skimming through many redundant passages and irrelevant details. The kidnapping/rescue sequence jazzed things up, but died off much too quickly in yet another failed connection between John and Sheila. Ultimately I think the author got bored with it all herself, and so finally dashed off ending in a few short paragraphs - which was so completely ludicrous my eyes were literally rolling and I had to laugh/groan out loud.
I didn't hate this book. It was an easy quick read, and I welcomed something light, being home with the flu and a foggy noggin. But so many five star reviews? I don't get it. I might recommend this book to teenage girls. But please don't bill this as historical fiction.
The author writes well and is a good storyteller. When it took us to the "drug" world, and all rough language was missing, it did not seem as realistic as I would expect. I prefer an author not use four-letter words just to be sensational but when they are realistic it seems right and totally lacking, I begin to realize the author may not be comfortable with that language and those characters.
I highly recommend the book. It's a good read and a look at Belfast life from a woman's point of view.
Tim Merriman author of The Leopard Tree
Despite my reservations, I give it kudos for a first novel.