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A funny, fierce, and unforgettable read about a young woman working a summer job in a shirt factory in Northern Ireland, while tensions rise both inside and outside the factory walls.
It’s the summer of 1994, and all smart-mouthed Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles. She hopes she will soon be in London studying journalism—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the violence of her divided community.
As a first step, Maeve’s taken a job in a shirt factory working alongside Protestants with her best friends. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Handy Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. Then, as the British loyalist marching season raises tensions among the Catholic and Protestant workforce, Maeve realizes something is going on behind the scenes at the factory. What seems to be a great opportunity to earn money turns out to be a crucible in which Maeve faces the test of a lifetime. Seeking justice for herself and her fellow workers may just be Maeve’s one-way ticket out of town.
Bitingly hilarious, clear-eyed, and steeped in the vernacular of its time and place, Factory Girls tackles questions of wealth and power, religion and nationalism, and how young women maintain hope for themselves and the future during divided, violent times.
“Factory Girls is full of the stuff that we're starting to expect of Michelle Gallen; wild, hilariously angry characters, and language that is vital, bang-on, and seriously funny."
— Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and Love
“Michelle Gallen's Factory Girls pulses with dark, irreverent humor. Set in a place where dreams are laughable at best, dangerous at worst, it's a big F you to the only world these characters know. And yet, there's vulnerability here. Hope, too. I loved it."
— Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes
“This novel is a wonder; the heroine is cheeky, the humor dark, the dialect thick, the sorrow palpable.”
— Library Journal, starred review
“Gallen fluidly juxtaposes the pedestrian worries of small-town life against the Troubles of the mid-1990s… For fans of Derry Girls and the plucky heroines of Marian Keyes.”
— Booklist, starred review
"A blistering comedy."
— People Magazine
“Fans of Derry Girls will enjoy the snarky, smart-mouthed Maeve, as well as her friends Caroline and Aoife, as they wittily navigate the working world and life complications that come with entering adulthood.”
About the Author
Michelle Gallen was born in County Tyrone in the mid 1970s and grew up during the Troubles a few miles from the border between what she was told was the"‘Free" State and the "United" Kingdom. She studied English literature at Trinity College Dublin and won several prestigious prizes as a young writer. Following a devastating brain injury in her midtwenties, she co-founded three award-winning companies and won international recognition for digital innovation. She now lives in Dublin with her husband and kids.
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