As Long as it Takes

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by Maria C. McCarthy

As Long as it Takes gives voice to the lost generation of Irish women who sailed to England to look for work in the middle of the twentieth century. Maura Flaherty and her daughters struggle with identity, belonging, love, sexuality and grief – and dilemmas such as whether to like punk or Elvis.

With no concessions to nostalgia or sentimentality, this deeply moving and beautifully written book, by a second-generation Irish writer, tells the interwoven stories of an immigrant family. Maria C. McCarthy skilfully weaves the historical and cultural significance of Anglo-Irish relations into a half-century of family life.

Paperback; 166pp; 203×127 mm; 978-0-9926485-1-0; February 2014; Cultured Llama; £12.00

Cultured Llama is proud to announce that Maria C. McCarthy is the winner of the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2015, for her short story ‘More Katharine than Audrey’, which appears in As Long as it Takes.

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Dark, impeccably minimalistic stories about immigrant Irish mothers and their English-born daughters. The mothers belong to the ‘lost generation’ of Irish workers who emigrated to England in the middle of the last century. They call Ireland ‘home’ and inflict old-fashioned Catholic morals on their English daughters growing up in a more liberated time and culture. Out of this tension comes a series of stories written from the perspective of several women family members, transcending these painful differences with their courageous humour and absolute refusal to look away. The stories reinforce each other and create memorable echoes, reverberating in the mind long after the book is closed.

Martina Evans, author of Petrol (Anvil 2012)

Read individually, these stories might seem modest: each cuts its small piece of cloth and lays it out with truthfulness, understanding and warmth. But characters recur and situations illuminate one another, so that when we read them together we find ourselves inside the story of a whole community of Irish immigrants, suddenly faced, as the protagonists are, with the tellingly displaced expectations and longings of a generation of women and their legacy to the generations that succeeded them. Maria C. McCarthy knows how to tell this complex story, and she tells it with humanity and imagination. The thoughts, speech and actions of her characters make them intensely alive.

Susan Wicks, author of A Place to Stop (Salt 2012)

This is a well-made and thoughtful collection of linked short stories on the theme of Irish migration. The stories are subtle and sophisticated, the characters well drawn and the world they occupy made vivid for the reader. Maria C. McCarthy handles the emotional and moving material very well, these are never mawkish or sentimental stories and the larger themes the stories inevitably touch on are implied and suggested rather than addressed directly.

Stewart Brown, author of Tourist, Traveller, Troublemaker:
Essays on Poetry (Peepal Tree Press 2007)

Maria C. McCarthy was born in Ewell, Surrey in 1959, and raised by Irish parents. Her Irish heritage features strongly in her poetry, stories and her columns for BBC Radio 4’s Home Truths (written and broadcast as Maria Bradley).  Her first poetry collection, strange fruits, was published by Cultured Llama in 2011. She has an MA with distinction in creative writing from the University of Kent.  Also by Maria C. McCarthy: strange fruits. Her website is www.medwaymaria.co.uk

Fiona Sinclair reviews As Long as it Takes on London Grip: “Whilst this is a collection of short stories focussing particularly on the lives of Irish women, their struggles are in fact universal. This is a celebration of women with indomitable spirits who are devoted to their families and above all are survivors.” Read the full review here.

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