A telling eye for incongruous detail

Here’s what The Guardian had to say about The Rising of Bella Casey – short but definitely sweet: –

The playwright Sean O Casey composed six volumes of autobiography but didn’t reserve much space for his sister, Bella, whom he killed off at least a decade earlier than her actual demise during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. Fifteen years older, and practically a second mother to him, her principal sin was that of marrying a common soldier, thus throwing away the advantages of an above-average education “for the romance of a crimson coat”.

Morrissy’s novel restores the missing years and invents some fairly convincing extenuating circumstances – though Bella marries an obnoxious corporal with unseemly haste it is only to hide the fact that the unwelcome attention of her employer, an even more obnoxious clergyman, has left her pregnant. Morrissy reconstructs Bella’s story with a telling eye for incongruous detail: an upright piano abandoned in the street during the Easter rising opens a portal to more affluent times; while her fortitude against poverty and the influence of feckless and abusive men sets a template for the heroines of her younger brother’s plays: “Characters already born and ready made, roaming their foetid rooms in search of a writer.”

Alfred Hickling – The Guardian, Friday 4 October 2013

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