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Big Girl, Small Town

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  78 reviews

'Milkman meets Derry Girls. A cracking read' Sinead Moriarty

'A thrillingly fresh, provocative and touching voice' Marian Keyes

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

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

*Stuff Majella knows*
-God

...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 20th 2020 by John Murray
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
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Anni
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm feeling bereft to get to the end of this novel, after spending so many entertaining hours in the company of the indomitable Majella . I was engrossed by her tales of the chippy with all the gossip and the unforgettable characters - not forgetting her co-worker Marty - who knows everything there is to know about any of the customers. I loved reading about Majellas daily routines, especially as told in the Northern Irish vernacular which spares no blushes. I shall really miss reading more ...more
Louise Wilson
Set in Ireland. In this book we follow Majella just after the murder of her gran. Majella works in the local chip shop. We follow Majella's daily grind and see the world through her eyes. Majella has no real friends, even though she knows lots of people. She is also on the autistic spectrum. Her father is missing and her mother is an alcoholic.

The story is told from Majella's point of view. It's told over one week in November. She's quite a funny and interesting character. Majella is naive. We
...more
Aoife
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

Majella is a big girl, living in a small world, and for the moment, she's actually okay with it. At 27 years of age, Majella's world is fairly routine - she works the evening to early morning shift in the local chipper in Athybogey, and then goes home, eats her fish and chip supper before bed. Then in the morning, she looks after her mother, who is an alcoholic, before repeating the previous evening's routine. And once a
...more
Louise Wilson
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Set in Ireland. In this ook we follow Majella just after 5he murder of her gran. Majella works in the ,local chip shop. We follow Marjella's daily grind and aee the world through her eyes. Majella has no real friends efe though she knows lots of people. She is also on the autistic spectrum. Her father is missing and her mother is an alcoholic.

This story is told from Majella's point of view. Its told over one week in November. She's quite a funny and interesting character. Majella is naive. We
...more
Anni
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm feeling bereft to get to the end of this novel, after spending so many entertaining hours in the company of the indomitable Majella . I was engrossed by her tales of the chippy with all the gossip and the unforgettable characters - not forgetting her co-worker Marty, who knows everything there is to know about any of the customers. I enjoyed reading about Magella's thoughts and (often intimate) daily routines, especially as told in the Northern Irish vernacular which spares no blushes.
I
...more
Robert
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I was reading Big Girl, Small town, I couldnt help thinking that this would make a great T.V. show. Theres a lot of things its favor ; memorable characters, funny moments balanced with some sad ones, plus a main protagonist who will stick with the reader for some time.

Marjella is in a rut. She lives in a small Irish town and she works six days a week in a chip shop, loves watching Dallas, has an alcoholic mother, missing father and makes detailed lists of the things she likes and doesnt
...more
SueLucie
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This novel is a work of art, cleverly structured and subtly presented. Majella is somewhere on the autistic spectrum and finds daily interaction with others a chore. She has learned responses to the chip shop banter by rote which has the effect of making her shifts there repetitive and therefore something she can cope with. Her life is one of routine for her but most aspects of it strike the reader (well, me anyway) as unusual. But then life in a small town right on the border between Northern ...more
Cassie Holland
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Hailed as another Elizabeth Oliphant but I found Majella a difficult person to empathise with.
For me it was difficult read, I could not find the humour in it and I struggled to get to the end.

I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
MisterHobgoblin
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The quirky female narrator in a Northern Ireland novel is not a new thing but its often an enjoyable thing.

Big Girl is Majella ONeill, an underachieving young woman of stout proportions who is squandering her considerable academic potential by working six nights a week in her local chip shop. The small town is Aghybogey, a thinly disguised version of Castlederg in County Tyrone.

So Majella keeps a list of all the things she doesnt like, including sub-categories. She also keeps a much shorter
...more
Siobhan
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Big Girl, Small Town is the story of Majella, a woman with a predictable life that other people find odd, and how a family death shakes up her routine. Majella lives with her alcoholic mother in the same small town in Northern Ireland that she's always lived in. She works in the chip shop, doesn't like small talk, and knows her daily routine. Other people seem to think her grandmother's recent death should have more of an impact on her, but Majella doesn't see any change in her life, until it ...more
Annelies
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and John Murray for the ARC

I have never been so happy about someone treating themselves to a new duvet.

Set in a small town in Northern Ireland somewhere near Strabane and Omagh, it brought back some good memories. I enjoyed the Norn Iron dialect, the chippy, all the customers with their own backgrounds, details thereof provided by Marty, and the ever present complicated history of the place. It was really lovely spending this time with Majella, always walking around in her
...more
Bridget
I totally adored this book by Michelle Gallen. I was surprised to learn this is the authors first novel - a magnificent début set in a small, close-knit town in Northern Ireland, called Aghybogey. The book follows a young woman named Majella ONeill, struggling to find her way through life after the death of her grandmother. She is also trying to cope with her alcoholic mother and an absent father.

I found this a really compelling and hugely entertaining story. Michelle Gallen delivers a
...more
Charlotte
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Think Eleanor Oliphant in small-town Northern Ireland and you'll be some way already to understanding Gallen's debut novel.

Only child Majella likes routine, predictability, Dallas and, is happiest in, her own company. But her father has disappeared in the 'Troubles' and her mother is rarely sober-either from the whiskey she consumes by the bottle or, failing that and when the opportunity arises, is "drunk on the attention of others."
So, Majella relies on her working week at 'Salt and
...more
Alexandra [[The Hungry Book Dragon]]
Thoroughly enjoyed this book by Michelle Gallen. A fantastic debut set in a small close knit town in Northern Ireland. The book follows a young woman navigating her life after the death of her grandmother whilst dealing with an alcoholic mother and an absentee presumed dead father.

Marjella is witty, realistic and completely recognisable. I loved the fact that she knows and loves who she is and doesn't change herself for others. Her coworker Marty at the Salt and Battered! Really lifted the book,
...more
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
I loved this book, Majella is one of the best characters Ive read or seen written in a long time, she takes time to warm up to but once she is in your heart she doesnt let go. This book is about the everyday, the mundane and real emotions, I get why people may not enjoy it as much, but for me makes it a truly relatable, empathetic and powerful read. I really hope there is a second book and we get more of Majella


Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
...more
Louise
Oct 30, 2019 added it
I tried hard to like this book, far harder than I usually do. The reviews were Good,so I thought I just needed to get into it.
I got into 50%of it,then gave up... I found it dull,repetative and a little depressing. It's probably supposed to be. Same old same old.
But I found no humour... and so I gave up.
Not for me.
Dani
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to John Murray Press and Netgalley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Majella O'Brien lives in a small town, repeating what seems like the same day. Something she accepts as a comfort, due to her upbringing, and also the curse of living in a small town. Then, everything changes when her grandma dies and she is thrown into the town gossip mill and unwanted attention.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing. There is a obviously a focus on the religious divide within Ireland, which
...more
Alex (Gadget Girl 71)
This book really isnt what I expected. When I first started to read it I enjoyed it and it made me laugh, as the main character Majella has a long list of things she doesnt like about life. The more I read the book the more monotonous it became. However it wasnt until I came to write this review and reread the synopsis. That I realised the main character Majella is autistic which changed my viewpoint of this book a little bit. This explains the monotony of each day as autistic people like ...more
Victoria Sadler
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now, any book that frames itself as Milkman meets Derry Girls is always going to pique my interest. After all, we know I loved Milkman that fabulous Anna Burns prize-winner about an awkward young womans coming of age in war torn Northern Ireland and who the hell doesnt love Derry Girls, that exquisite sitcom about schoolgirls growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, in the 1990s.

So, how does this debut from Michelle match up to that great expectation?? You know what, pretty damn well.
Not that
...more
Marjorie
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Majella O'Brien lives with the shadow of "The Troubles" on a daily basis. Living in a border town means that even after the Good Friday Agreement there is still a simmering undercurrent of tension between the Loyalists and the Unionists in Northern Ireland and from what little we glean of Majella's earlier life it seems her father and his family and wider range of acquaintances were intimately involved in the Unionist cause. Throw in the fact that Aghybogey still has clear separation between ...more
Vivienne
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My thanks to John Murray Press for an eARC via NetGalley of Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen in exchange for an honest review. It was published on the 20th February.

This has been dubbed Milkman meets The Derry Girls and being fans of both Anna Burns novel and the tv series, I would certainly agree with this description. I didnt feel that it was as challenging a read as Milkman and was more conventional in its narrative style. I found it a very accessible novel.

The Big Girl of the title is
...more
Sue
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Majella's life revolves around routine and this allows her to cope in the little world she has made for herself.

Shuttling between her job at the chip shop, being tucked up in her room watching Dallas, and the occasional night out at the pub, she does her best to ignore the parts of life she doesn't really understand - and keep a distance from her drunken mother as much as she can. Other people certainly find her strange, but she keeps herself to herself and finds her rituals comforting.

But
...more
Caroline Kerdouci
Ill be honest I did struggle to get into this read but on the whole Im glad I persevered. Big girl small towns central character is Marjella who lives in a small Irish town (with an unpronounceable name!!) in the aftermath of The Troubles. Shes an interesting character, an oddball who works in the local chipper. Her grandmother has just passed away and her mother is, quite frankly, a waste of space, partial to the whiskey in addition to a fondness for strong painkillers but lacks any ...more
Effy
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Majella is a woman in her late twenties living in a small town in Northern Ireland. She works in the local fish and chip shop. Her grandmother has just been found murdered in her own home.

I really, really wanted to like this book but I just didnt. Honestly, this book was just really mundane and a little boring. From reading some other peoples reviews, I think that I might have not understood some of the things that you are meant to read between the lines but these things didnt feel very clear to
...more
Jodie Matthews
I know Majellas ma. Maybe not literally, but I know a woman just like her (not my own mum luckily). But the type of mum who sees her teen-to-grown kids as possible drinking buddies and caters, rather than children. As Majellas ma lies on the sofa under a dirty blanket, drinking constantly and sometimes eating a slice of toast, you think - ah yes, I know that mum.

You know Marty too, from the chippy. Big lad. Friendly but a bit stoic. Flirty but has a missus. Bangs the girl he works with in the
...more
Elaine's Reviews
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Big Girl Small Town is the story of Majella, 28 and stuck in a border town in Northern Ireland shortly after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, so somewhere around 1998/1999. The book is narrated by Majella, who is somewhere on the autism spectrum (she is not aware of this), and is written in Derry dialect, which was wonderful.

We read about Majella and the day to day happenings in her life. She works in a chipper every night. Her mother is an alcoholic. Her father disappeared some years
...more
Morag
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have just listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Nicola Coughlan (one of the Derry Girls) and was absolutely enthralled by it! (I almost wrote that I loved it but actually, a lot of it was incredibly negative so that was not appropriate!). I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much through reading it myself as I could never have captured the whole atmosphere of the town and its characters without Nicola Coughlan's accent and excellent skills in bringing the character and experiences ...more
Elizabeth
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Twenty-seven year old Majella lives in a small close knit border town in Northern Ireland; she lives with her ma and works in the local chip shop. Her life is all about routine, at home and at work; she knows what time to expect her regulars and she likes her life like that. She was perfectly happy working Monday to Saturday evenings in the local chip shop and her Sunday evenings in the local pub.

We follow Majella over the course of one week in November; her Grandmother was recently tragically
...more
Sarah
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theres no doubting Michelle Gallens writing talent and Big Girl Small Town is a brave and often witty portrayal of a young autistic womans day to day life in small town Northern Ireland. Each section of the novel is organised according to Majellas list of stuff that shes not keen on, such as physical contact and small talk. There are ninety-seven items and subcategories of these too!
Majellas father disappeared during the Troubles, her mother is an alcoholic and pain-relief addict, and her
...more
Alexandra [[The Hungry Book Dragon]]
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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