Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'A Swift Pure Cry'- Review

Publisher: Definitions

ISBN: 978-0099488163

Length: 310 Pages

Opening Line:
'The place brought to mind a sinking ship.'


'A Swift Pure Cry' is the debut novel of author Siobhan Dowd. Born in London to Irish Parents, she went on to pen several novels and was the founder of a organization which encourages people within socially deprived areas (such as prisons, schools and institutions), to develop their writing. Siobhan was heavily involved with reading schemes and she set up 'The Siobhan Dowd Trust' for disadvantaged children, shortly before her death from breast cancer, in 2007.

Set in Ireland, in a small village called Coolbar, 'A Swift Pure Cry' centres around Michelle (Shell) Talent, a 15 year old girl struggling to look after her siblings and alcoholic father, following her mother's death.

When Shell becomes pregnant to Declan, the local altar boy, not only does the scandal shake the foundations of the village, but also threatens to break up Shell's family. Shell gives birth to a stillborn baby girl, but on the discovery of a baby boy in a coastal cave, the police accuse both Shell and her father of the deaths of both babies.

Through the help of the local priest, her faith and her dead mother, Shell finds the strength to live through the painful investigation of her dead babies and help her father through his addiction.

'A Swift Pure Cry' is a beautifully written novel. Dowd crafts the words so evocatively, that I could hear the sounds and the smells of the world that she is trying to create. Also I was impressed how, even though this novel is aimed at young adults, this novel is still intelligently and sensitively written. It was in no way patronising and Dowd doesn't try to 'dumb down' any of the issues, that she was trying to put across. I think that any adult would enjoy reading this novel, as much as its target audience.

Dowd's character structure is brilliant.The characters were convincing, realistic and I felt a real empathy for the character Shell, throughout the book. The relationship between Shell and her father was both heart wrenching and touching. I also really liked the part in which Father Rose played with the novel, he reawakened Shell's faith in both God and the people around her. The only criticism I have, is that I would have liked to have seen more of a thorough development, between the situation between Shell and her friend Bridie.

'A Swift, Pure Cry' is both a sad and uplifting novel. It has religious undertones, but mainly focuses on finding the strength, to over come difficulties and the importance of family. I thoroughly recommend this novel to readers of any age.

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