Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Big Girl, Small Town” as Want to Read:
Big Girl, Small Town
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Big Girl, Small Town

by
3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,010 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Meet Majella O’Neill, a heroine like no other, in this captivating Irish debut that has been called Milkman meets Derry Girls

Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from her neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up just after the Troubles. She lives a quiet life caring for her alcoholic mother, working in the local c
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Algonquin Books (first published February 20th 2020)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Big Girl, Small Town, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Betsy Bielefield She inherited her grannies farm and decides to see a solicitor to find out how much it is worth. She uses what she has learned from JR Ewing...'take a…moreShe inherited her grannies farm and decides to see a solicitor to find out how much it is worth. She uses what she has learned from JR Ewing...'take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.'(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,010 ratings  ·  404 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Big Girl, Small Town
Susan Johnson
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
If I could rate this 10 stars I would. This is magical, quirky debut novel by a Northern Ireland author that is simply wonderful. I finished this yesterday and I am so sad that I do not have any more Majella to read. I want to pick up on Majella's day. It's hard to explain a book when you are so excited when someone buys a new duvet but you are and it's just a heart warming event.

Majella lives in a small town on the Northern Ireland border and the story takes place about 10 years after the Good
...more
Eric Anderson
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the fictional Northern Irish border town of Aghybogey, “Big Girl, Small Town” follows a week in the life of Majella, a young woman cruelly nicknamed Jelly by the locals. She works in a local chip shop and lives with her alcoholic single mother (her father disappeared during The Troubles.) The story begins with the dramatic news that her Granny was brutally murdered in her home. An awareness of this simmers beneath the story as we follow Majella's routine existence slinging fried food and ...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, europe
Audiobook.... The one star is only for the quality of the audiobook!!!!


I’m walking on a trail right now and I’ve listen to about five chapters of this book in audiobook format which I purchase this morning because of Susan‘s wonderful wonderful review

I can’t understand the narrator —
she’s mumbling -
worse than any narrator I’ve ever listen to.

I saw that netgalley had it available to read so I put in a request.
If they grant me a copy I will definitely read it. If not I’ll purchase it later, if th
...more
Whispering Stories
Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com

Early twenties Majella lives in a small Northern Irish town called Aghybogey. She lives with her mum who is an alcoholic. Her dad disappeared years ago during the troubles and her Granny has just been murdered.

Majella is autistic, though she doesn’t know it. She has a set routine every day. She doesn’t like change, squeaky shutters, gossip, bright lights. In fact, she doesn’t like a lot of stuff, which she notes writes down in categories and sub-catogori
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was a chapter or so into this as an eARC when I read Ron Charles' review that mentioned Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls) is the narrator, so I jumped to the audio. It is such a strong voice and character study that hearing it really made a difference. By the way, I've seen this compared to Milkman and Ottessa Moshfegh but I liked this more than both of those things.

Majella lives in the town of Aghybogey in Northern Ireland after the Troubles, and leads a quiet life taking care of her mother somet
...more
Ron Charles
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: special-needs
I read most of Gallen’s mournful comedy aloud to my wife, and even with my mangled Irish brogue, we loved it. (Alas, I discovered too late the book’s online glossary, which would have helped me swear with these earthly characters.) But you don’t need me: Just listen to the audiobook of “Big Girl, Small Town” narrated by Nicola Coughlan, the comic genius who co-stars in the sitcom “Derry Girls.”

The “small town” in question is Aghybogey, a fictional village in Northern Ireland soggy with hopelessn
...more
Rachel
This was a fine and forgettable read. Big Girl, Small Town follows Majella, a fast food worker on the autism spectrum in the fictional town of Aghybogey, Northern Ireland. Like most post-Troubles lit this deals with lingering tensions between Protestants and Catholics, the unresolved and unstable social climate narratively underscored by the disappearance of Majella's father, who went missing during the Troubles. 

I can't quite put my finger on what didn't work for me, beyond feeling sort of vagu
...more
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 Majella’s daily routines, especially as told in the Northern Irish vernacular which spares no blushes. I shall really miss reading more abo ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I really enjoyed this. It's a tricky one to find the right reader for because this is a voice novel not a plot novel, and those always come down to individual taste. But the thing about a voice novel that works for you is that the plot becomes secondary, you're down to follow this character through literally anything because that's the pleasure of the whole thing and this is 100% that.

Majella is finicky, likely neurodivergent in some way though no one has ever told her so. She isn't quite at hom
...more
Aoife
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 weekend
...more
Cassie Holland
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.
Nursebookie
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Michelle Gallen's debut novel, BIG GIRL SMALL TOWN is a very unique read that will fully captivate the readers for many reasons, and one of which is the character of Majella O'Neill. The detail of the writing as told in the third person perspective is a completely addictive read that transported me right to the 'chipper', a fish-and-chips establishment called A SALT n BATTERED, in the fictional small town of Aghybogey in Northern Ireland circa mid 1990's.

Majella is our loveable heroine with a f
...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
Jill
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big Girl, Small Town laser-focuses on the stout and underachieving character Majella O’Neill—cruelly called Jelly – who lives in the small village of Aghybogey during the Irish Troubles.

Each chapter begins with the time of day and an item from a list of things she doesn’t like at the start at the novel (the most important of these items is “other people.”) The precision of the chapters suggests that in all likelihood, Majella is on the autistic spectrum. She lives a small and bleak life: no frie
...more
Louise Wilson
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 l
...more
Tahera
The narrator for this audiobook Nicola Coughlan was AMAZING! Listening to her read this book made me live the one week the story covers alongside Majella and a whole bunch of other characters that make up the population of the North Irish town of Aghybogey. There were so many characters (big and small, major and minor) and Nicola did a fantastic job giving each of them a distinct voice through her narration. Superb!!

My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Workman Audio and the author for the audi
...more
Stephen
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed this novel based in northern Ireland just after the troubles and in parts was funny with the dark humour involved.
Claire
I liked the idea of reading a Northern Irish novel that used more of the phonetic vernacular as was the case in reading Milkman. I even bought a slim volume on some of the words used in the North but out of the context of a story or novel they made little sense and in the course of travels there isn't enough exposure to it. So this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I got so into it, I started writing to a friend about weans and oul wans an shite. She thought I was typing too fast and had not us ...more
Sonny Side Books
Dec 17, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried, I really did, but I found very little about this book enjoyable. Such great praise for this book, but I just didn't feel the same about it.

At first, the language used was tricky but I still understood it. I love shows like Derry Girls so for me I was super excited to read this but felt the more I read, the more I became disheartened and uninterested.

Majella as a character didn't endear herself to me at all. I liked how the portrayal of her grief came across in the book, as in real life
...more
Amy Imogene Reads
4 stars

A singular, comedic novel about a 20-something woman on the spectrum with a lot of things she doesn't like that could probably be summarized as: Other People.

Plot/Pacing: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Dialogue/Formatting: ★★ Not for me
Enjoyment: ★★★★

Big Girl, Small Town is a very unique read. For one, it's extremely funny if you like your humor with some bite and darker edges. For another, it is an extremely compelling character study. While I personally had some issues with the formatting, I thi
...more
Anna
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, irish-lit
The cover of 'Big Girl, Small Town' describes it as 'Milkman meets Derry Girls'. That essentially convinced me to read it, as I love Derry Girls and was hoping for similarly dark and chaotic humour. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the other half of the comparison, as I haven't read Milkman. 'Big Girl, Small Town' follows Majella, an autistic woman who works at a chip shop and lives with her alcoholic mother. Her father disappeared during the Troubles and her grandmother has just die ...more
Robert
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I was reading Big Girl, Small town, I couldn’t help thinking that this would make a great T.V. show. There’s a lot of things it’s 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 doesn’
...more
Siobhan
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 tu ...more
SueLucie
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 I ...more
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 enjoyed reading about Magella's thoughts and (often intimate) daily routines, especially as told in the Northern Irish vernacular which spares no blushes.
I sha
...more
Nursebookie
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michelle Gallen's debut novel, BIG GIRL SMALL TOWN is a very unique read that will fully captivate the readers for many reasons, and one of which is the character of Majella O'Neill. The detail of the writing as told in the third person perspective is a completely addictive read that transported me right to the 'chipper', a fish-and-chips establishment called A SALT n BATTERED, in the fictional small town of Aghybogey in Northern Ireland circa mid 1990's. Majella, the protagonist, the Big Girl, ...more
Desiree
Oct 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I'll admit I was struggling with the writing style a bit - a sort of stream of consciousness and day-to-day ordinary events in Majella's life. I kept going, however, as I had a strong sense that the story was going to take me somewhere - perhaps somewhere very interesting. I was intrigued with Majella's personality, and her relationship with her mother, as well as her father.

That said, I finally reached a point that I can't push past. I reached 47% last night and, after some pondering, finally h
...more
MisterHobgoblin
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The quirky female narrator in a Northern Ireland novel is not a new thing but it’s often an enjoyable thing.

Big Girl is Majella O’Neill, 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 doesn’t like, including sub-categories. She also keeps a much shorter
...more
Neil
Jul 30, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

One of the worst books I have read this year.
I just did not find the humour funny and the story was slow.
The characters lacked depth and it was really depressing.
Definitely not for me.
Nandika | Booktrovertgirl
Debut novels of 2020 have been blowing my mind, and 'Big Girl Small Town' is no exception.

This book is about Majella, who lives in a small town in Ireland with her alcoholic mother. She works at a fast food restaurant and is considered a spinster because she is 27 and unmarried. She has a list of things that she loves and a list of things that she hates, and each ‘chapter’ starts off with one thing from either of these numbered lists.

I really liked how the book was setup. Even though it gives yo
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Huntsville-Madiso...: Hoopla Pick - December 21 - Big Girl, Small Town 1 7 Dec 21, 2020 09:10AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Throne of Swans (A Throne of Swans, #1)
  • The Surplus Girls
  • A Perfect Cornish Christmas
  • Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
  • Gravity Is the Thing
  • House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)
  • Christmas Shopaholic
  • Innocent: The True Story of Siblings Struggling to Survive
  • Uncanny Valley
  • Maggie and Me
  • Mothering Sunday
  • Next of Kin
  • Barefoot Pilgrimage
  • Manic: A Memoir
  • A Strange Kind of Comfort
  • Christmas at the Cupcake Café (At the Cupcake Café, #2)
  • Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry
  • The Hygge Holiday
See similar books…

Articles featuring this book

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
27 likes · 20 comments
“What if we accept these points of light, their translucence, their brightness; what if we let ourselves enjoy this, stop fearing it, get used to it; what if we come to believe in it, to expect it, to be impressed upon by it; what if we take hope and forgo our ancient heritage and instead, and infused, begin to entrain with it, with ourselves then to radiate it; what if we do that, get educated up to that, and then, just like that, the light goes off or is snatched away? Milkman, Anna Burns” 0 likes
“On her First Holy Communion, Majella could remember sitting in the chapel for a long time, with Jesus stuck to the roof of her mouth, and her trying to peel him off with her tongue. Somehow she knew picking him off with her finger was all wrong.” 0 likes
More quotes…