Book Review: Tatty


Christine Dwyer Hickey

New Island Books, February 2020

Paperback, 208PP, €11.95 

ISBN 9781848407619 

Review by Joanna Geoghegan.

Christine Dwyer Hickey’s semi-autobiographical novel, Tatty, was originally published in 2004. This year, it was rereleased with a spellbinding introduction by Dermot Bolger, and has been chosen as the Dublin One City One Book title for 2020. Set in the 1960s-70s, Tatty tells the story of a young Dublin girl whose family has been torn asunder by a devastating addiction to alcohol. The novel begins when Tatty, the titular main character, is three years old, and follows her, along with her five siblings and her embattled parents, until she is thirteen.

Dwyer Hickey’s writing style effortlessly morphs over the course of the novel to reflect Tatty’s ever-increasing maturity and situational awareness, reflecting with undiluted honesty the blissful innocence of her early childhood, heartbreakingly contrasted with an all-too-sharp level of awareness as she grows older. Dwyer Hickey tempers the heart-rending sadness of Tatty’s narration with remembrances of amusement, happiness and love.

Tatty projects a sentimental view of 1960s Dublin through the childhood antics of its protagonist and her siblings, yet the narrative is also ruthlessly honest in its representation of the systemic issues of alcoholism, family violence and secrecy that have dogged Irish society for so long. At its heart, Tatty is a rendition of a childhood marred by the effects of alcoholism, yet defined by resilience, strength, and hope.

Dublin Book Festival are delighted to host not one, but TWO events with Christine Dwyer Hickey this year!

Click below to view our Dublin One City One Book event, where we are joined by Christine Dwyer Hickey in Conversation with Niall MacMonagle:

Or register for our event with the RTÉ Radio 1 Arena Live Show by clicking the link below: