Claire's Reviews > Savage Her Reply

Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan
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bookshelves: feminism, fiction, fantasy, irish-literature, young-adult

I was drawn to read this having never heard of the Irish tale The Children of Lir and I was intrigued by the Gaelic names and words. I'm planning to read Tangleweed and Brine, a collection of shorter retold stories by the same author as well.

I loved the structure of the book, the italicised pages preceding some chapters that narrate a classic version of the tale, followed by the author's chapter which provides greater depth and is told from the point of view of Aife, the middle sister, married off to Lir after her sister died in childbirth.

I can imagine she is usually depicted as something sinister, she is a stepmother after all and they seemed destined to not be capable of any act of kindness, so I suppose we ought to be grateful that at least forgiveness is given a role. However, I held out hope that perhaps the author may have dug deeper or stretched the imagination wider to somehow redeem this woman's callous actions. There was room for more engagement with the source of her pain and regret.

It is a strange tale as her actions seem to be on account of her character - or perhaps due to a deep unacknowledged resentment at having been severed and separated, along with her two sisters, from their parents at a young age - rather than any apparent bad treatment by the husband as one might expect. Something about her motive remains a mystery despite the little soul searching she does.

The artwork and use of feathers is brilliant, I lived that each chapter had a mysterious, almost cryptic illustration of calligrams and poems laid out in particular shapes, their titles words I didn't know. The shapes mimic the characters, or letters of the earliest Irish alphabet, Ogham.

Reaffirming once again (having just read A Ghost in the Throat) the importance of poetry and the poet to Irish myth and culture, in its many forms.
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Quotes Claire Liked

Deirdre Sullivan
“Perhaps I am a dark, unpleasant creature. But I am my own creature. I am mine, my feet on the earth and the water in my soul and fire in my heart. And when all is taken from me I will still have my anger and my pain and they will feed me.”
Deirdre Sullivan, Savage Her Reply

Reading Progress

October 24, 2020 – Shelved
October 24, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
October 24, 2020 – Shelved as: feminism
October 24, 2020 – Shelved as: fiction
October 24, 2020 – Shelved as: fantasy
October 24, 2020 – Shelved as: irish-literature
October 24, 2020 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 26, 2020 – Started Reading
October 26, 2020 –
page 60
23.44% "Not familiar with the story The Children if Lir, but being in an ancient Irish phase, intrigued to learn more about this story of three sisters, a savage retelling of a classic Irish fairy tale. Promising start."
October 28, 2020 –
page 90
35.16% "Three sisters taken from their family to be raised by a king, as an act of ensuring loyalty and favour, their foster father the King then uses them to maintain favour with Lir, the man he ousts from the throne. The first sister bears him two sets of twins and is replaced by the second sister Aife, who narrates this tale."
October 29, 2020 –
page 225
October 30, 2020 – Finished Reading

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