A Belfast Girl.

Author:Rigby, Karen
Position:Book review

Maggi Kerr Peirce (author); A BELFAST GIRL; Parkhurst Brother Publishers (Nonfiction: Women's Studies) 14.00 ISBN: 9781624910173

Byline: Karen Rigby

These stories are quickly absorbed but not quickly forgotten; each contains moments that leave one nodding in recognition, while opening windows on a singular city.

Maggi Kerr Peirce presents vignettes of life in Belfast before sectarian violence. With a penchant for well-turned observations and charismatic humor, she crisply details childhood encounters in the years after the Great Depression, with a few stories taking place on the brink of, or during, adulthood. Kerr paints a close-knit, domestic world that often appears gentle, but does not shy from darker realities like World War II and a neighborhood house rumored to be haunted by an abused child. These piercing recollections combine youthful wonderment with hindsight to provide eloquent insights on family.

Raised in a Protestant home as the youngest daughter of a mother who was "difficult to live with" and a "sober" father, the author portrays her parents with affection and admirable restraint. Stories seldom dwell on the family's shortcomings, and instead reveal members as distinct, rounded individuals. Kerr's mother, in particular, emerges as a woman with a flair for lively language, advising the author to "Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe."

Stories that consider beloved objects, from a bisque doll in "The Most Beautiful Doll in the World" to a drawing room curio in "A Little China Figure," skillfully capture period details through everyday moments. More richly layered stories widen in...

To continue reading