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Big Girl, Small Town

by Michelle Gallen

Debuts Family Drama Humour (fiction) Relationship Stories Sharing Diverse Voices Star Books

LoveReading View on Big Girl, Small Town

This is such a beautifully handled startling wow of a read, it has gone straight in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book. Spend a week with Majella as the routine of her life changes, she just wants to go to work, watch Dallas, and eat the same dinner each night. However… her mother is an alcoholic, her dad disappeared in the Troubles, and her gran has just died. The synopsis tells you that Majella is autistic, but this is her story, and she doesn’t know she is, so I met, I saw, I got to know Majella, as Majella. The extensive list of things she isn’t keen on are announced as the story progresses. The humour Michelle Gallen delivers is punchy, the swearing is particularly sweary, while the heartachy emotion wormed its way into my heart and squeezed. In fact Majella marched her way into my thoughts, she is one of the most wonderful characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and I’d go so far as to say that she is unforgettable. The repetition of her life, echoed through the book, adding emphasis to each new experience. The surrounding town and its folk slipped and exploded into play while the chip shop sits centre stage. Simple and raw yet richly complex, Big Girl, Small Town comes with huge applause and recommendations from me.


Liz Robinson

Big Girl, Small Town Synopsis

Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 Shortlist

Routine makes Majella's world small but change is about to make it a whole lot bigger.

*Stuff Majella knows*

-God doesn't punish men with baldness for wearing ladies' knickers

-Banana-flavoured condoms taste the same as nutrition shakes

-Not everyone gets a volley of gunshots over their grave as they are being lowered into the ground

*Stuff Majella doesn't know*

-That she is autistic

-Why her ma drinks

-Where her da is

Other people find Majella odd. She keeps herself to herself, she doesn't like gossip and she isn't interested in knowing her neighbours' business. But suddenly everyone in the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up wants to know all about hers.

Since her da disappeared during the Troubles, Majella has tried to live a quiet life with her alcoholic mother. She works in the local chip shop (Monday-Saturday, Sunday off), wears the same clothes every day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, nuked in the microwave) and binge watches Dallas (the best show ever aired on TV) from the safety of her single bed. She has no friends and no boyfriend and Majella thinks things are better that way.

But Majella's safe and predictable existence is shattered when her grandmother dies and as much as she wants things to go back to normal, Majella comes to realise that maybe there is more to life. And it might just be that from tragedy comes Majella's one chance at escape.

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Big Girl, Small Town Press Reviews

Darkly funny - Mail on Sunday

Captivating . . . a confident debut with a very memorable protagonist in Majella - Irish Times

Superb - Irish Examiner

A winning evocation of a small Irish community whose people burst from its pages. Engaging and satisfying - Daily Mail

Northern Ireland is currently producing more exceptional writers per square inch than possibly anywhere else . . . Michelle Gallen will most certainly earn her place in the honours list. Big Girl, Small Town is even funnier than Derry Girls, while being just as fraught as Anna Burns's Booker Prize winner - Sunday Independent

What a voice: I felt as though I knew Majella intimately by the end . . . Big Girl, Small Town is a darkly hilarious novel about small-town life, which manages to be wildly entertaining despite being mostly set in a chip shop - a fine place in which to loiter with such a filthy, funny, clever companion - Guardian

Bawdy yet beautiful, full of everyday tragedy, absurdity and truth. I grew extraordinarily attached to Majella - Sara Baume

Milkman meets Derry Girls. A cracking read - Sinead Moriarty

A thrillingly fresh, provocative and touching voice - Marian Keyes

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781529304206
Publication date: 20/02/2020
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray Press
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781529304206
Publication date: 20th February 2020
Author: Michelle Gallen
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray Press
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 320 pages
Genres: Debuts, Family Drama, Humour, Relationship Stories, Diverse Voices, Star Books,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Michelle Gallen

Michelle Gallen was born in Tyrone in the 1970s and grew up during the Troubles a few miles from the border. She studied English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and Publishing at Stirling University. She has had work published in the Stinging Fly, Mslexia and others and won the Orange/NW Short Story Award.

More About Michelle Gallen

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