Daisy Chain Dream

This novel, first published by the Poolbeg Press in 1994, has been reissued by Hodder, along with the two earlier titles in the trilogy. Daisy Chain Dream is mostly concerned with the story of the ambitious and vulnerable Biddy Plunkett in the difficult years after World War II. Although a misleading cover suggests a narrative of joyous love, in fact this is a grimly uncompromising story for older readers about the realities of entering the adult world of work – in particular Biddy’s problematic love for Anthony Quinn, the double drudgery she endures at home and at work, and eventually her pregnancy and imprisonment in a Magdalene convent. The narratives of other characters jostle in and out of the telling of this story, especially those of Gertie Doyle and her family. There is nothing self-consciously literary about this work, no thematic shaping, no novelistic orderliness. It arbitrarily abandons one narrative line in favour of a different one (chapter 4 is an example), and after chapter 15 the novel deserts Biddy entirely and moves to New York for Lizzie’s wedding. Such casual taking-up and dropping of narrative threads can be unnerving. With strongly oral narratives, the reader may feel the need to interrupt the telling (‘Hold on a minute! I thought this was a story about . . . ?’). On the other hand, they can, as here, convey the shapeless randomness of reality in an undemonstrative, often understated, account of people somehow coping. So the reader, too, just has to cope.