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By Roddy Doyle

The Booker Prize-winning writer of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha attracts a portrait of a working-class girl suffering to reclaim her dignity after marriage to an abusive husband and her personal alcoholism. Reprint. NYT.

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The tech was just the tech. The convent where the snobs went was called Holy Rosary. The brainy ones in primary were told to do the entrance exam for Holy Rosary. No one ever told me. I tried — just now — to remember all the names of the other people in my class but I couldn't do it. I couldn't come near it. I hate when that happens. I can remember mat it was raining the morning I started but I can't remember the names of the people who sat behind me. No such problem with the name of me little prick that sat beside me.

Bottle green; I loved it. And it started to rain. All my friends except Fiona had gone through the door into the school. And I didn't like Fiona as much as the others. She was full of herself. 6. Brady, Harold. Brady, Frances. Brannigan, Martin. It was mostly boys. —They're all horrible, said Fiona. —Look it. I was too busy listening, going through the alphabet with the headmaster. —O'Leary. I picked up my bag. —Derek. I let go of the handle. —O'Leary, Paula. The corridor went on forever. I was following Derek O'Leary.

It took me years to realise that it didn't matter that she was the oldest; it didn't mean that she always had to be right or that she had to have the last word. She still thinks it matters; that's her problem. I like her, though. I love her. I feel sorry for Denise sometimes, stuck between us. They've been great to me over the years, my two sisters. They won't let me tell them that, but they have; they've been just brilliant. I'd never have done what I did — I'd never have finished it — without them helping me.

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