In Ordinary Time
Fragments of a Family History
by Carmel Mc Mahon
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Pub Date 02 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 19 Jan 2023
A multi-layered exploration of trauma, time, memory, grief and addiction that will captivate readers of Notes to Self, Constellations and A Ghost in the Throat
In 1993, aged twenty, Carmel Mc Mahon left Ireland for New York, carrying $500, two suitcases and a ton of unseen baggage. It took years, and a bitter struggle with alcohol addiction, to unpick the intricate traumas of her past and present.
Candid yet lyrical, In Ordinary Time mines the ways that trauma reverberates through time and through individual lives, drawing connections to the events and rhythms of Ireland’s long Celtic, early Christian and Catholic history. From tragically lost siblings to the broader social scars of the Famine and the Magdalene Laundries, Mc Mahon sketches the evolution of a consciousness – from her conservative 1970s upbringing to 1990s New York, and back to the much-changed Ireland of today.
'Stunning. A work of great emotional and intellectual heft, about how familial trauma and the collective past suffering of a nation can engender the nameless psychic pain of the individual. Truth and honesty shine out of every line’
Mary Costello, author of Academy Street
‘Beautiful, compelling, thought-provoking… Mc Mahon draws us a kind of map for our broken hearts. She knows that, even in unflinching personal stories like hers, the past has lessons for all of us. An uncompromising reflection on what it means to be of Irish heritage today, whether at home or abroad’
‘In Ordinary Time is painfully familiar in its account of family loss and trauma in the urban working class, and personal enough never to feel like a survey or aerial view of Irish women’s history. Sensitively written and quietly devastating, it’s the book I had been waiting for — the darker shadow twin of Marian Keyes’ Rachel’s Holiday’
Niamh Campbell, award-winning author of This Happy
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