Irish Fiction Week Review: The Chisellers by Brendan O'Carroll

Thursday 19 March 2015
Title: The Chisellers (Agnes Browne, #2)
Author: Brendan O'Carroll
Publisher: O'Brien Press
Publication Date: 4th August 2012 (1st: 1995)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781847173232
Source: Purchased
Rating: /5
Purchase: Amazon
Continuing the hilarious saga of the ups and downs, minor scrapes and major run-ins of the seven children of Agnes Browne, The Mammy of the bestselling novel of the same name. Full of joy, humour, pathos and the raw vernacular of the Dublin streets.

Agnes Browne and her seven 'chisellers' take on the world … and win!

It's three years since Redser's death and Agnes Browne soldiers on, being mother, father and referee to her fighting family of seven. Helped out financially by her eldest, and hormonally by the amorous Pierre, Agnes copes with family tragedy, success and the move from the Jarro to the 'wilds of the country' -- suburban Finglas.

And when the family's dreams are threatened by an unscrupulous gangster he learns a costly lesson -- don't mess with the children of Agnes Browne!

The Chisellers continues the story of the Browne family a couple of years after the events of The Mammy. With the elder children now bringing in a wage, life in the tenements is a little more bearable for the family. Agnes receives a letter one morning from the Dublin Corporation, the tenements are to be demolished and the family are to be uprooted across Dublin in a matter of weeks. Agnes and the residents are soon in uproar, protesting at the move.

The comedy this time around takes a bit of a backseat, it's still there and the book is in places extremely funny but it's a bit of a serious read in places, and there were a number of developments and twists that I wasn't expecting. Now the children are older, Frankie is a skinhead which is bad news for Rory who is now working in a hairdressers, being chased home of a night by the local gang of skinheads. When Frankie is kicked out of school his troubles soon escalate as he finds himself caught up with some very dodgy people. Dermot is somewhat of a rascal and I loved the story of how he shoplifted a pair of trousers from a local clothes shop. All while Agnes and Mark sat in a cafe upstairs after shelling out close to £100 on a suit, Mark starting to make a good living for himself and his family. The other children again have their roles to play in the story, I'm particularly fond of Trevor. All of the characters just come to life on the page.

Once again O'Carroll writes about a time and place that he knows well giving the book a real feel of authenticity, and highlighting the subjects that people at that time had to face, sometimes difficult but writing about it in a very humorous way. Through the drama and the heartache it's a very bittersweet read in places, and once again Agnes Browne and her 'chisellers' are a joy to read about. I was left speechless with certain events towards the end of The Chisellers and wasn't expecting O'Carroll to take the story where he did but it definitely left me wanting to continue with the trilogy straightaway. I love O'Carroll's writing, it's just fantastic, and as with The Mammy I had this read in just a few sittings which is actually a bit of a shame because they are over far too soon. As I recommended The Mammy, The Chisellers comes highly recommended by me also.


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