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December Girl by Nicola Cassidy
What if your child was taken?’
Words that invoke terror in the mind of every parent….
Irish debut novelist, Nicola Cassidy, writes about Molly Thomas, ‘a feisty, independent soul’ struggling to keep herself above water in anyway she can.
December Girl is Molly Thomas’s story.
The year is 1896. A young mother is in a shop queuing, with her baby beside her in his pram. She turns to pay. She looks back…
‘Empty. Oliver. Gone.
My baby! My baby’s gone!
I let the panic take over. There were screams now. I could hear them coming from my throat. I was wailing.’
These are the words of Molly Thomas, a young girl from Ireland, alone on the streets of London. Almost two years earlier Molly lived with her family in Co. Meath as tenants of a local wealthy family. Molly loved her home and loved nothing more than feeling the wind in her hair as she climbed up Dowth mound, a ‘grassy Stone Age tomb that lay like an upside-down pudding bowl’ in her family’s sheep field. But one action caused a turning point in Molly’s young life forcing her down a very different and unexpected path.
Evicted from their home, Molly experiences anger like never before. Moved to a neighbour’s house and eventually into town, Molly misses the life she once had.
Over time Molly’s life completely unravels and she soon finds herself in London. Initially struggling with the cards dealt her, Molly wonders will she ever be able to see the daylight again….and then her baby is taken…
Now I have to admit that I was completely taken aback with the path this novel took. Once I got into it, I found it very difficult to put down. I was distraught. I was heartbroken. I was almost lighting a candle for Molly, in the hope it would assist her in some small way to overcome all the horrors placed in her path.
This is no light tale about a young girl’s exploits and disappointments in the late 19th century. December Girl is a story of love and heartbreak, of family and disappointments, of fear and courage. It is a story of a very brave young girl as she attempts to rise above the life given her. But each time she almost reaches the top, she is knocked back down.
December Girl is also a historical account of a time when the world was a changing place. Estates were being sold off and the tenants were able to live more comfortable lives. The power of the landowner was greatly reduced. Nicola Cassidy mentions the many Irish who fought alongside the English during the First World War, with the Irish Rebellion of 1916 also mentioned. It was quite interesting to see the impact of societal changes on the landlord as the estates begin to crumble. The ordinary folk begin to climb up and rightfully claim their own place in the world.
Nicola Cassidy based her novel on two historical occurrences, an actual eviction in Dowth in 1880 and a kidnapping of a child in Dublin during the 1960’s. With these ideas firmly planted in her head, Nicola expertly wound the two stories together creating this wonderful novel that quite literally broke my heart.
An incredible debut, I so look forward to what Nicola produces next. Can I just mention the cover? It is stunningly evocative in it’s simplicity. It is ghostly, it is moving, it is beautiful.
December Girl is out now and it’s definitely a book for all, whether you are a person who chooses historical fiction or not.
An emotional novel – poignant, distressing, heartrending and tragic…..yet compelling, engrossing and disturbingly real.
(c) Swirl and Thread
Order your copy online here.