Cover Image: Big Girl, Small Town

Big Girl, Small Town

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Member Reviews

Was not a fan of this. Very EMO, lots of graphic period talk that I didn't really find necessary. I can appreciate the author was trying to create a certain kind of tone and character but it wasn't an appealing one for me
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DNF at c.40mins in. I'm afraid I just couldn't connect with this audiobook, which surprised me as I love the narrator. I think maybe this is a book that's better read. I'll try and give it a go in a different format. It was just too much stream of consciousness in my head.
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We love a story about a boring girl who's life becomes to be more exciting. This book may not do it for some but I found it to be a great listen. I loved the innocence and the details about her daily life.
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Majella lives in the small town of Aghybogey, Ireland. She works in the local fish’n’chip shop, A Salt n Battered, and lives with her mother. She is relatively happy with her life. For enjoyment she watches reruns of Dallas and goes out the local pub once a week. But mostly, she codifies her life experience. There are a lot of things she doesn’t like, from loud noises to dirt. Really, it can best be summed up as one thing she doesn’t like: Other People. 

The year is 1994, shortly after the ceasefire in Ireland. But the Troubles still ripple through the area, as Aghybogey is near the border. And while the fighting between the Catholics and the Protestants is officially over, there is still the possibility that it had something to do with the disappearance of Majella’s father. And no one knows the cause of the recent attack on Majella’s grandmother, that led to her death. 

Majella’s days are spent taking care of her alcoholic mother and working in the chipper. She knows her customers and makes sure their orders are right. She pays attention to the supplies and the cleanliness in the restaurant. In short, she is all about the details. 

Big Girl, Small Town is author Michelle Gallin’s study of one week in a young woman’s life. Majella tries to get her mother to eat something, she gets ready for work, she waits on customers, she has a fag, she warms up her fish and chips dinner in the microwave when she gets home after work. In need of some comfort, she buys herself a new duvet for her bed. 

This book is mostly about Majella’s inner life, her thoughts on what makes her uncomfortable, her thoughts on her family, her thoughts on her future. It’s poignant and moving, sometimes funny and often sad. But Majella doesn’t lie. She doesn’t try to be someone she isn’t. She doesn’t impose herself on others. She just tries to get through each day as best she can. 

The audio book of Big Girl, Small Town is read by Nicola Coughlin, best known for her role on Derry Girls. The accent she uses for Majella is a little broad, but it couldn’t be more perfect for the character. She embodied Majella from the first page to the last and brought her to life. 

I was really looking forward to reading this book ever since I heart if got short-listed for the Booker Prize. However, I struggled with it. Majella’s inner monologue gets monotonous at times, and I had to work to keep my mind from wandering. I did think that there was some amusement in the story, but there were also sad circumstances that, in my experience with the book, outweighed the humor. 

I liked Big Girl, Small Town but didn’t love it. I thought the narration was pitch perfect for the book, but it was the book itself that I had to force my way through. 

 A copy of the audio book of Big Girl, Small Town was provided by Workman Audio through NetGalley, with many thanks.
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Just not my cup of tea. I listened for about an hour and haven't felt the need to listen any more. I wasn't engaged by the characters or the situation.
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a week in the life of an unremarkable young woman from northern ireland that, in its mundanity, becomes remarkable.

it's difficult for me to review this book because it's so different from most books i read. not much happens: majella works at the chip shop, majella's mother is demanding, majella gets a new comforter, majella introspects... plot points that might be driving forces in another book (majella's father has been missing for a while, majella's grandmother has recently been murdered) feel almost mundane in this one.

the narration, however, is anything but mundane. nicola coughlan is a delight to listen to and i could recommend this book on her narration alone.

ultimately, for a complete change of pace, this book could be quite the refresher. but be warned: if you're looking for a gripping fast-paced tale with shocking twists and turns, this is not the book for you.

thank you to netgalley and workman audio for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow!!! I had to say this. Loved loved loved this book. The story, the narration, characters, everything about this book was amazing. 
Loved it.
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The narrator for this audiobook Nicola Coughlan was AMAZING! Listening to her read this book made me live the one week the story covers alongside Majella and a whole bunch of other characters that make up the population of the North Irish town of Aghybogey. There were so many characters (big and small, main and supporting) and Nicola did a fantastic job giving each of them a distinct voice through her narration. Superb!! 

My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Workman Audio and the author for the audio ARC of the book. I can't comment on the written version of the book since I haven't read it but I will surely recommend this audiobook! 

The audiobook was released on 1st December 2020.
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I will never hear the name Majella again without thinking of Majella’s mother hollering for her. Repeatedly. And loudly. MAJELLA. This book was a glimpse into the life of a family during The Troubles and it was witty and heartfelt. And the narrator was absolutely amazing!
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Thank you to NetGalley, Michelle Gallen and the publisher for this ARC. I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and accompanying Majella oh her day to day life. 

Majella is a 27 year old living in a small town in Northern Ireland. She works in a chip shop, has the same dinner each night, and has a list of things she likes and doesn’t like. The town of Aghybogey is one where everybody knows what is going in everybody else’s life. With Majella’s dad missing and her grandmother recently being murdered, it’s all everybody seems to talk to Majella about. 

The story is told on an hour by hour basis so it really feels like you’re going through the day with Majella. We don’t have much in common but I found myself warming to Majella and rooting for her.
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I generally really enjoy (Northern) Irish literature, and I loved Derry Girls, so when I saw this audiobook I was very excited. I did enjoy a lot of things, but to be honest it was quite a drag. because we follow a main character who is autistic and who values her routines throughout a regular week in her life, the story is quite repetitive. I understand that that was done with a purpose, but it does make listening to an audiobook very, very hard to get through, at least for me personally. although I thought the narration by Nicola Coughlan (who plays Clare in Derry Girls!) was fantastic, I’m not sure if I would recommend the audiobook purely because it really exacerbates the repetitive tone of the book. other than that, I don’t have any other criticisms though. I think the story and Majella as a main character were very interesting and I really liked the melancholy vibe of this small industrial town with mainly working class inhabitants, plagued by poverty, substance abuse and political unrest. the humorous writing combined with the tragic events that happen throughout the story (very much in tragicomic fashion) was also something that I liked about this novel because it worked so well with the personality of the main character.

overall, I would recommend this book if you’re into these types of contemporaries, but maybe listen to an excerpt of the audiobook first before deciding on whether you’d rather read or listen to it.
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Unfortunately, I could  not enjoy the book Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallin. The few chapters that I listened to were good, at least the parts that I could understand. Unfortunately, the audio was very hard to hear. I tried to listen to it on different speeds but it got no better. I don't feel that I can give the book a star rating since I didn't actually hear the story. The  audio rating for the narration would only be a two though. I loved her accent, but I simply couldn't understand a lot of what was said. It was as if she was mumbling, or talking to fast for me to understand. I do wish I could've enjoyed the story. 
Thanks for the opportunity to listen to this, but I am sorry I can't give a higher rating. All opinions are my own.
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Whilst I usually love character driven books this just didn't do it for me at all. Didn't feel like much happened at all and I really couldn't get into the characters or their stories whatsoever.
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A story of a big girl trying to move past the tragedies in her family and find her place in a small town in Ireland. Told through the list of Majella's likes and dislikes as Majella tries to negotiate her town after the tragedy of her grandmother's death is added to the disappearance of her father and her mother's alcoholism. 

The narrator transports a listener to Ireland and gives Majella a voice.
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What a terrific audiobook! Nicola Coughlan, of Derry Girls fame, did a spectacular job narrating this story of a young woman in Northern Ireland. Majella works in a chipper and has a long list of "dislikes" and a short list of "likes". Majella is socially awkward and neurodivergent, so she sometimes struggles to make sense of her small town life and those around her. And life hasn't been easy - Her uncle accidentally blew himself up making bombs for the IRA when she was a child, her Da disappeared when she was 11, her Ma is a mean drunk, and her Gran has just been murdered. But Majella perseveres through it all.
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I have no idea how this book has received so much buzz lately. I like character novels, but this one couldn’t have been more boring. The setting is interesting enough with Majella living on the northern border in a war-torn Ireland, but this is a book about nothing really. A lot has happened to Majella in her life, but for whatever reason the reader is given only seven mundane days of her life (the chapters are split into days-Monday to Sunday) with flashbacks of her childhood thrown in to help explain why Majella is the way she is. Other than learning who Majella is, the reader never gets to see her change, for better or for worse. She’s just kind of there...existing.

I might usually caution at this point that I’m about to give some spoilers, but that doesn’t seem possible since NOTHING HAPPENS throughout the entirety of this book. We tag along with Majella as she works her nightly shifts at a fish and chip shop where she occasionally shags her coworker in the storage room after they close for the night. Then we follow her as she goes home where she lives with an alcoholic, codependent mother who is insufferable. (Her father was a member of the IRA and disappeared years ago, presumably killed for his involvement in the civil conflict.) It’s more or less the same routine for 6 out of the 7 days, with a lot of graphic masturbation and menstrual period talk. It’s like the author realized there was nothing happening to really challenge Majella to grow or overcome or change in some way so she decided to throw a period into the mix. Not to mention there are a few scenes depicting animal abuse which I didn’t see the purpose of since it did nothing for the storyline. 

Ugh...I just honestly don’t get it and I wish I had the time I spent on this book back. 

As far as the audio goes, it took awhile to get used to the narrator’s accent for me. It wasn’t the accent so much, but she did mumble and speak far too fast at times for me to understand what I was listening to. Based on the narration alone, I’d have given the performance 3/5 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for giving me access to this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I’m sorry I didn’t enjoy it more.
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Gallen’s brilliant debut is set in a small town on the border of Northern Ireland. The protagonist, Majella, is a single 27 year old ( on the spectrum) living with her alcoholic mother and working at the local ( Catholic) chipper ( she has never eaten a Protestant chip!) The dark humor of Big Girl, Small Town, and the evolving Majella will captivate readers. The wonderful narration by Nicola Coughlan ( co-star of the sitcom “Derry Girls”, adds an irresistible layer to the story.Highly Recommended
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The Narration: 5/5
The narrator, Nicola Coughlan, gave a five star performance with her narration of this book. Nicola nailed the character of Majella I had in my mind from reading the book. Nicola does a wonderful job with the Northern Irish dialect/accent amongst the various characters in the story.  Nicola's performance was so well done that  I didn't envision Clare Devlin from Derry Girls when I listened to the narration, this performance was uniquely Majella. 

The story 4/5
This is such a unique book, I enjoyed it immensely. Adding to the uniqueness of this book is that it was written in a Northern Irish dialect, think Derry Girls. Because of this, It took about 25% of the way into the book for me to fall into the rhythm of the story,

It follows Majella O’Neill for a week during her job in a chip shop, binging on Dallas DVDs, dealing with her alcoholic mother, and the brutal death of her grandmother. Some people find  Majella a little odd. She has a list of likes and a much longer list of dislikes. Majella does not have it easy and I found myself rooting for her.

If you like unique character driven novels, with a quirky main character, dark humor, and written in a Northern Irish dialect, then this is the book for you.
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I listened to the audiobook of Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen. I really enjoyed the narrator having been to Ireland a couple times and appreciating their accents. Majella is a quiet young woman who appears to have autism. She works in a fish & chips restaurant in a small town in Northern Ireland after The Troubles. Her mother is an alcoholic and her father disappeared during the Troubles. The story picks up right after her grandmother is murdered and follows her life for a week.

Majella's story is pretty sad and the people around Majella are all living lives that don't seem much better. I have very little knowledge of what life was like with the IRA in Northern Ireland so that part of the book was interesting to learn about.

I could only give this book three stars because though well written I wanted either a little more action or some humor. It is just very sad.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy of the audiobook.
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I got an ARC of this audiobook.

I saw that this was an Irish humor voiced by someone from Derry Girls and that was all I needed. If you want a wild ride, watch the show.

The narrator is pretty much perfect for this book. The way that she is able to make Majella’s mom so obnoxiously annoying is amazing. I just can’t stand her mom at all. The way she is constantly yelling Majella’s name just grates on my nerves. It was a great detail. Nicole Coughlan was a great choice. She is able to do thick Irish accents to a more subtle accent as needed. It was clear when there was dialogue and it was delivered with a wit that had me laughing, even when I was missing half the joke due to the slang that just has not made it to my American mind yet.

The book is one of those meandering slice of life sorts of books. It has a lot of details of duvets, fish, and just general family life. It was fascinating to watch Majella’s world expand and how she could handle it. At times she would notice small things and other times she would be a bit shocked by things. Nothing was too mundane for Majella to mention, but the things she noticed were fascinating. The way she reacted to social situations and stress made me read her as autistic. She often flicked her fingers and she thrived on schedule. I am not sure if she was intended to be neurodiverse, but it was nice to see her as such. A lot of other reviews mention that she is autistic so I am probably not reading too deeply into it. It was great to see an autistic character that had a job and had a life. So often autistic characters are relegated as background characters or challenges for the MC.

The book was often crude with its humor, but in a way that was actually fitting. Dog shit jokes are not ones that I normally find funny, but the way they were delivered and timed was pretty wonderful. I am surprised at how often I enjoyed the weird sausage jokes, despite knowing how cringe they were. Majella also knows they are cringe and gets annoyed at having to tell the same joke over and over again. It was so cool to see how drastically different she interacted with people she knew the rules for and new people. The difference between her interacting with her boss and the sales clerk for the duvet was so clear and felt so close to home.

I didn’t really care that there was a plot. I just wanted to hear about every single day and interaction that Majella had. My only complaint was listening to this book at work got me a few weird looks. Nothing like someone talking about “fish cunts” to get someone’s attention I guess.
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