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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  487 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Our Woman refuses to be sunk by what life is about to serve her. She’s just caught her son Jimmy in the barn with another man. She’s been accosted by Red the Twit, who claims to have done the unmentionable with her husband. And now her son’s gone and joined the only group that will have him: an army division on its way to Afghanistan.

Setting aside her prim and proper ways,
Paperback, 225 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Biblioasis
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Average rating 3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  487 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Shanna Germain
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nanolomo-books
There are those who want their grief, their life, their love, served up on a pristine plate with a proper napkin.

If you are one of those people, this book is not for you.

If, however, you are someone who understands that life is messy, that being a woman and a mother is never clean, that we humans are a beautiful and filthy bunch, then Malarky is the kind of book you will read once, then read again, then buy for everyone you know and love. Half of those people will look at you like you're insane
Tricia Dower
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book might not be everybody’s cup of tea and I can’t image how a copyeditor managed to tackle it with changes from present to past tense in a single sentence and the narrator speaking of herself in both first and third person, often in the same chapter (or “Episode” as a chapter is called). I struggled with this at first but quickly gave myself over to the experience of being inside the head of a woman with a wry sense of humour who has been driven quite mad with hurt, grief (she’s lost so ...more
Kerry Clare
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If Hagar Shipley met Stella Gibbons, the end result might be Anakana Schofield’s Malarky, but then again, it probably wouldn’t be, because Malarky refuses to be what you think it is. And moreover, it probably wouldn’t be because the book is meant to be chock-a-block with allusions to James Joyce and Thomas Hardy. Don’t tell anybody, but I still haven’t read Ulysses (and hence the Gibbons instead of the primary sources), but I have read Malarky, and it was brilliant, which I know for certain even ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: firstreads
Anakana Schofield's debut novel is a beautifully crafted exploration of grief, age, family, and sexuality. The story begins almost at the end, with Our Woman recently widowed. The narrator moves back and forth in time to piece together the story of the loss of her husband and son. As the story is drawn out, she discovers her husband's infidelities and her son's sexuality, and deals with it by taking a lover. Though she goes about it in an unusual way, she comes into her own just as she's being ...more
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Don’t be fooled by the comic eccentricities of Irish rural life depicted in the narrator’s inner monologues. Referring to herself as 'Our Woman' and her dull clod of a husband as 'Himself', this middle-aged Irish farmer's wife has her resilience worn away by grief and disappointment, tripping the narrative over into much darker and surreal territory. A modern day Molly Bloom, 'Our Woman' is a character whose voice you won’t easily forget.

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Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, can-con, irishfic
Before she moves quietly off, she takes another look. She has to see it again. They're still at the same malarky. It's her son, her boy, and he's shaking himself stronger against that young fella. He cannot bury himself deep enough in him. Flagrant; he's got him by the hips, rattling in and out of them, almost like he's steering a wheelbarrow that's stuck on a stone, going no place.

Our Woman (Phil, or Philomena, or even, if you prefer, Kathleen) is a sixty-year-old Irish farmwife who is
Kieran Walsh
Feb 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Sometimes there’s nothing for it but to admit defeat. I spent weeks pouring over this one and can’t bring myself to say that it was enjoyable. Actually I felt angry having finished it (and not because I don’t know how to go about getting my three weeks back). I’m angry because its another Irish writer who thinks she’s the next James Joyce. It reminded me of the Emperor’s New Clothes. She’s so brilliant, her style so revolutionary that she actually crossed to the other side and God dang it she’s ...more
Ken Sparling
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's like she's got this thing dancing inside her, rattling the words right out of her. You see this chaos of material flying forth toward you, but you can't see through the chaos to the force that animates it. You love the chaos, but it's the force that is the soul of the thing, the driving power that attracts you, draws you in and makes you well over with love again. It's what you can't ever know that you want so desperately to encounter, and now here it is concealed in plain sight behind ...more
Deanna McFadden
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Oh, be still my heart this book. THIS BOOK. It's a dense novel but every word seems carefully chosen, it swells, how it swells the heart. Our Woman, a widow, having to come to terms with the malarky her son, her one son (she has two other children, daughters), gets up to with other men (he's gay; she's finding it hard to come to terms with), must face something even more heartbreaking when he goes off and joins the US army. Schofield's way with words consistently amazed me, and even the ...more
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Strange, very strange, but brilliant for the honest, unforgettable, and occasionally very funny voice of Phil ("Our Woman") as she meanders through twenty "episodes" of grief-induced confusion. This is difficult reading, confusing at times because the narrative moves backwards and forwards without warning and the narrator refers to herself regularly in the third person, but the story is emotional and achingly honest. A brave little book. Worth reading and worth re-reading.
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-this-year
I loved this book. I was astounded by the voice of Our Woman - her thoughts about life stream out of her - uncontrollably at times. This novel is funny and tragic - it is aggressive yet loving. The last sentence brought tears to my eyes . Thank you Anakana Schofield for a beautiful reading experience
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-groups
Initially when I read this book, it bothered me. It was uncomfortable. It felt dismal. It was almost too real. These are real characters. They feel like "real people" Not glamorized characters that appeal to a movie set. These characters are "regular" people with some surprises. Our Woman has courage but she is also tragic in her loneliness, and her striving to make sense of it. In this way, she is not typical at all. I initially gave this book two stars, because it is not a book I "enjoyed". It ...more
Barbara McVeigh
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, can-lit
Despair and Dignity: Anakana Schofield’s inaugural novel, Malarky

Darkly humourous, Malarky is about the struggle to understand this thing called life. Set in rural County Mayo, Ireland, the story concerns Our Woman, Philomena as she reels from a blender of shocks: her son’s homosexuality, being told that her husband’s having an affair by his God-fearing mistress, and the death of the two most important men in her life.

The book is about grief, longing, the closeting of sexuality—any sexuality—and
Sze Yen
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up because of the good reviews I saw and heard from others, I rarely (almost never) buy a paperback book, especially a debut novel. But I did, and I think I made a good move.

This is a hard book to rate. It took me a relatively long time to finish a book of this length - due to the style, slang, etc. For this, I want to rate it 1 star, but. I am so amazed by the characters in this book, how real they are, as if they are people I've known, or people being copied from my brain
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I dipped into this book a few years ago, and I thought I wasn't going to enjoy it, so I never finished. But I read it for Canada After Reads, and really got into it. I loved the character's voice, her challenges, the structure and the humour. I had to pay close attention to some of it because of both the slang and the structure, but I thought it was incredibly well done.

Planning to read Martin John now. :)
Paul Fulcher
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"- Men, I said. Naked men. At each other all the time, all day long. I can't get it out of my head.

- Well now, she said and fell silent.

She had to have been asking the Almighty for help, until finally she could think of no explanation and her recommendation was to scrub the kitchen floor very vigorously and see would a bit of distraction help."

Anakana Schofield's Martin John was a well-deserved shortlistee for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize and the eponymous subject of that novel features as a
Jun 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
When I first read the summary for this book, I thought it sounded interesting. Not something that I usually would go for but I am willing to go outside of my box and try new authors and books. This is how I have discovered some good ones. Sadly, I found myself not being able to get into this book. The first person talk, I did a little bit of an issue with in the beginning but then I got used to it. I kind of found it intriguing like thought bubbles. Like I was reading the woman's thoughts. This ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although relatively short, this was a challenging read due to the unique voice of Our Woman. Some lines were so marvelous they had to be reread- "Aine's questions arrive like blood sausage on plates for hungry men." I became fascinated by Our Woman because of her strength and personality. Sometimes I drop books because the characters are flat, I fail to "buy in" to their hopes, dreams, and the things that make them tick. I was sold when it came to Our Woman, she was almost too real. As I sat on ...more
Meagan Kashty
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Set in modern day Ireland, Malarky is a story told in episodes of one woman's attempt to deal with grief. Our woman — or Phil — transitions from a traditional house wife, whose only ambition is to please her husband and children, to a woman on a mission to achieve independence. Told in a variety of different voices, the reader is subject to the desperation and confusion Our Woman faces on her journey.
Quirky, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, Malarky gives an interesting perspective to a story
Donna Bryant
Jul 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book was aptly named, it was pure malarky, intact, it stunk. I know many people from Ireland and not one of them speaks the way Ms. Schofield writes. The book was unbelievable, incoherent, confusing and very hard to follow. I can't believe it won any awards or made it to any best-seller list.
Elaine Kelly
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
At times laugh aloud funny, at others quietly poignant. Real characters, some of whom I felt I'd met.
Patricia L.
This book sings with humanity. It is unexpected. I look forward to reading it again. I will definitely buy anything Anakana Schofield writes from now on.
Jul 25, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: ireland, decade-2010s, el
I like this article, and she's quite funny:
Dorothyanne Brown
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of those books that hangs loose in your head, rattled around a bit, then shoots a shaft of light through your heart. The tale is of a woman and her family- she is an unreliable narrator and so fascinating- she is lonely and destroyed by her loneliness but rather than wallow, she takes a sort of mad control of herself and those about her. She does not go quietly.
I loved all the expressions that come out of her mind, “our woman”, and the thoughts. I felt for her as she becomes unhinged, loses
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
In the first episode, Our Woman is newly widowed and also has a freshly dead son. She’s meeting with a counselor referred to as Grief. She’s having dreams, Our Woman confesses. Naked men having at each other. Grief’s response: Clean the kitchen floor. The next best thing, turn to God.

Ankana Schofield’s debut novel “Malarky” is told in 20 non-chronological periods of change in Our Woman’s life. She’s living in rural Ireland and married to a chilly, awful, maybe attractive man who counts on her
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover of this novel is scattered with praising comments from well-known and much-loved authors such as Emma Donoghue and Margaret Atwood. The paperback version is beautifully presented, with almost childlike illustrations that on closer inspection, are perfectly suited to the story within.

Malarky is not an easy read by any means, although it is a short novel at just over 200 pages. The story is set out in episodes, rather than chapters and although the setting is modern-day Ireland, Our
Katie Hilton
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
***********This was a Good Reads giveaway****************
I immediately fell in love with the title of this book, so I read on to the plot summary. When I read the plot summary on the site, I was drawn to the comically dark and twisted plot line, so I entered the giveaway.

Honestly, I felt like I was peeking into the intimate lives of this family and watching all of their dirty laundry unfold. As I read on , I began to have wavering feelings about the main character. I don’t want to reveal any
Cathy Austin
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Malarky is magnificent. Breezed through this small but powerfully written narrative. Aptly titled. Characters swept up with a fine brush stroke. Struck many chords with me. Clever, delicious word fest, Irish in tone and setting, fine ear for dialect, daily living, inner thoughts and reckless, wonderful letting loose behaviour of Our Woman. My copy was from my local library and I had to stop wanting to dog ear so many pages to remember and re-read. Oh. What a delight. Dark humour. Sorrow, a ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Really an excellent novel. The protagonist and (often) narrator is one of the most compelling, complex characters I've read in a while. She's an older woman, a farmer's wife, in rural Ireland and the way Malarky dismantles and deploys tropes of "the farmer's wife" and "the pastoral Irish novel" are brilliant. Our Woman is the type of voice who most often either isn't heard, or is given such a cliché of a voice and presence in someone else's story that she might have been better off left unheard, ...more
Aug 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was very disappointed with this book, it seems to have received many good reviews which surprises me.
It was difficult to follow, very disjointed and events don't happen in any chronological order. The main character jumps from writing of herself in the first person 'I' then the next paragraph she's 'Our Woman'.
I found this book to be depressing, dismal and none of the humour I was expecting.
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Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian writer of fiction, essays, and literary criticism. Her second novel Martin John was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and more.. Her debut novel Malarky won the 2012 First Novel and the Debut Litzer Prize for Fiction in the US and was nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Malarky was ...more
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“Sad and glad, her strange combination.” 4 likes
“It's beautiful when it all makes sense, so it is. Occasionally it makes sense, just for a moment.” 4 likes
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