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on June 16, 2004
Legend has it that if you capture a leprechaun, he will bring you good luck. Brendan O'Carroll must have had the luck of the wee people with him when he wrote The Mammy, a truly hilarious book.
O'Carroll, who acted in the film Angela's Ashes, wrote The Mammy as the first in an upcoming series of three. His debut novel hits its mark with every joke and captures the essence of working-class Ireland.
The series centers on a widowed mother, Agnes Browne, and her seven children, all living in Dublin, Ireland in the 1960s. Her youngest son, a toddler, speaks little but repeats every curse word he hears. Her oldest son tries to seduce girls with licorice and finds himself plagued by a number of puberty-related problems.
The Mammy opens with what could be a heartbreaking scene of loss and sorrow: the death of Browne's husband. But with apt amounts of Irish wit, O'Carroll turns the funeral scene into a hilarious escapade that leaves Browne cursing her late spouse.
The funeral parties get backed up entering the cemetery, so Browne loses track of which coffin belongs to her husband. Without realizing it, she follows the wrong body and is surprised when she sees another woman crying by the gravesite. Without a second's thought, Browne assumes the grieving woman is her late husband's mistress and mutters "'Yeh dirty bastard" under her breath.
Another comical scene ensues when Browne attacks a nun with a cucumber and ends up in court - all because of a pair of knickers. The tale itself is nearly as funny as when Browne has to explain it to the judge. Soon, her only daughter takes the stand and, with a little Irish luck, Browne wins the case.
In The Mammy, Agnes Browne becomes an every-woman, the ultimate mother and friend. She manages her children (a wild brood), helps her friend through cancer and handles her husband's death with grace. And through O'Carroll's imaginative writing, just about everything Browne does is funny.
In the end, the book itself becomes a little treasure lying at the end of an Irish rainbow.
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on November 24, 2011
The humour of Brendan O'Carroll is unmatched. I found this book on a shelf while visiting my sister-in-law. It was a very dogged eared copy as she told me she often rereads it. After reading it I can see why. O'Carroll paints a very realistic picture how life must have been living in Dublin's "Jarro" during the 60's. I highly recommend it to everyone.
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on July 12, 2003
Brendan O'Carroll appeared in the film 'The Van' and 'Angela's Ashes' now author of 'The Mammy' the #1 bestseller in Ireland that started it all-the Agnes Browne trilogy. First came 'The Mammy,' followed after 'The Chisellers' and later they made her 'The Granny.' The best trilogy since 'The Godfather.' Well, just as good anyway. It's the funny, laugh-out-loud story set in 1967 Dublin, about Agnes and her lively brood of seven kids-Mark, Francis, Rory, Dermot, Trevor, Simon and Cathy. Agnes husband Redser has died. But being a single parent hasn't got her defeated. Not even the troubles with her daughter, Cathy's tyrannical teacher. Or the amorous advances of the French proprietor of a local pizza shop. Not even the medical crisis of her best friend, Marion Monks. Agnes supports the family by going to Moore Street at five every morning and set up her produce stall. There all the women meet to gossip, buy and sell. All the humor and humanness has an aroma of Irishness that rises above the clamour of daily business. Out of the average day Agnes makes everyone's day special.

There in the Jarro becomes a moving and tender portrait of working-class life in 1960s Dublin. To the fatherless Browne clan, Agnes is more to them than just a beloved neighborhood character. She's just about anything there is to be. The pages of 'The Mammy' have all the hiliarity of Paul Roach and the charm of Dickens. There are page-to-page funny accounts like Agnes educating the "facts of life" to her eldest son, Mark. Marks awareness of his changing self had me tickled Irish pink. The one of the man in the James Bond movie with the three nipples. The one about P.J. and Dolly Foley had me laughing through the whole Chapter 8. The story is an Irish "Leave It to Beaver" meets "The Waltons." I can't tell you how much I really loved reading this book. I loved the ending when the two Browne boys arranged a meeting with Cliff "Harry" Richard for their mammy on Christmas Day. It just goes to show in a sad and busy world that someone's dream can come true. When you read about Agnes Browne, you will be captivated by her strength and wittiness like you always known her as your next door neighbor. 'The Mammy' will warm your heart and put a little Irish jig in your soul. Slainté y'all!
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on July 11, 2002
This novel was a joy to read. The protagonist and her seven children were likable, the descriptions of Dublin in the 60's were vivid and I especially enjoyed it when Agnes whacked her daughter's schoolteacher, Sister Magdalene, in the face with a cucumber for cutting her daughter's "fringe" (bangs) off. Even better, the judge who hears the assault charges takes Agnes's side, presumably because he could relate to Cathy's dilemma with the nuns.
While I enjoyed the story for what it was, I couldn't help but think of another Irish writer, Roddy Doyle. "The Mammy" had likable enough characters, but they lacked the depth of the characters created by Roddy Doyle. O'Carroll created so many children in the Browne family, but the only ones the reader really got to know were Mark and Cathy. Perhaps if the novel had been a bit longer, we could have followed some of their escapades as well.
All in all, though, the story is a good one. Agnes is tough, loveable, and humorously naive in the ways of the world. She does just fine on her own after her no-good husband, Redser, gets hit my a delivery truck. I will definitely pick up the Chisellers and the Granny to follow the Browne family as they grow up.
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on February 20, 2002
Reading this short book reminded me so much of the popular best selling book-turned-movie "Angelas Ashes" which I hated. Author Brendan Carroll's work is part of a trilogy and this one "The Mammy" is his first. The other two are "The Chisllers" and "The Granny." According to the info in the book, it is supposed to be turned to a movie with Angelica Huston as its director. Author Carroll is from North Dublin, an acclaimed playwright and Ireland's most popular stand-up-comedian, he is an actor and appeared in the movie version of "Angelas Ashes."
Set in Dublin in the mid-sixties, its about a feisty spunky lady widowed with seven versatile children. Her husband, Redser, an alcoholic wife-abuser has died.
We follow Mammy (Agnes) and best friend Marion as they share a stall on Moore Street selling vegetables and fruits. They share bonding, wit, fun and heartache. They also live in a tenement called the Jarro, home to the dealers, dockers, draymen (drivers of the carts) and on those government funds.
Her children are a versatile bunch with the oldest 14. There seems to be some stories about each, but not much. The usual bathroom humor is dished out heavily, stories of sadistic nuns at school, confirmation etc. Then, Mammy soon discovers her best friend Marion has cancer and the story continues to unfold as the two women endure their friendship to the end.
There isn't much of a storyline or plot. Put some sex, bathroom humor, profanity and looney people and you got a book. If you like this type of material to read, you may enjoy this book.
I could recommend this book, I am sure it can be enjoyed by many people. If you liked Angela's Ashes, you will like this. I don't find this Irish humor entertaining, nor is gross bathroom or sexual humor Maybe some people will find it humorous, but not me. It didn't move me. The book is written in dialogue form......MzRizz
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on September 10, 2001
How can you laugh at a widow with seven children? When the widow is Agnes Browne, you can! Dublin is the home for Agnes Browne and her family. The cards have fallen and Agnes has so much going against her- her husband's recent death, being a single mother to her seven children, and working long hours selling produce in her stall on Moore Street. But when Agnes finds herself at the bottom of the barrel, she shows her never disputable strength.
When Agnes' best friend, Marion, is faced with tragedy, Agnes is there right by her side.
Agnes takes on her daughter's teacher, when her mothering feathers have been ruffled. No one, not even Sister Magdalen will get away with mistreating one of her children! Agnes is a bit rough around the edges when she is the target for the attention and affection from the French owner of the local pizza parlor. Not surprisingly, Agnes manages to win his affection on her own terms.
Brendan O'Carroll has created characters I will not forget. Any mother who has survived her son going through puberty, must read this book. I laughed so hard I ached! I am looking forward to the next book in this series
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on December 25, 2000
The photograph on the cover of this book is spectacular, and everything Mr. Brendon O'Carroll includes within is wonderful! This Irish tale is unlike any other I have read. The book is not cluttered with Irish cliché's, which even if true to one degree or another, can nonetheless become tiresome. It has often been said that there are no happy endings in an Irish tale, and while this is the first installment of three, it would take multiple disasters to change the overall mood of this Family and Friends.
The story is about two female friends, the joy they share, their everyday lives, and the pain that all relationships eventually suffer. However this friendship is not subject to damage or limitation. The dialogue is a riotous tear from beginning to end. Your own laughter will continually interrupt your page turning, but the intrusions are part of the fun. The characters laugh until they hold their sides, and you will be as well as Mr. O'Carroll's dialogue is brilliant. There is a scene when a driving lesson is to take place. If I have read better humor I cannot remember what it was.
The wonderful part of the laughter in this book is that it is not only for covering the pain of daily life. The lives you encounter are far from consistently ideal, but the laughter and joy these women share and spread is genuine, not dark, and not meant as emotional misdirection.
This is a brief work, however the Author managed to include so much more than emotional extremes. The 15-year-old eldest son of Agnes meets a man who offers him money for a job that makes no sense to the boy. Think of every negative direction this opening can take and then forget them all. Mr. O'Carroll takes this vignette within, "Mammy", and shows so much of what Humanity could be. The beauty of this mini-tale is that it is not the naïve thoughts of wide-eyed youth. It is a look at how people should treat each other, what should be important when we meet someone, and most importantly how foolish our normal reactions routinely are.
This is one very talented man with a pen, and he made this Christmas a memorable one for me.
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on August 24, 2000
I picked up this book when I was looking for something different to read and based solely on the cover blurbs, and was NOT disappointed! This was one of the funniest, sweetest, most charming books I've read in YEARS!!
I began the book on a NYC subway, where I do all my best reading, and was laughing out loud within the first few pages. Now, for those of you not familiar with NYC, the subway is NOT a place where one wants to draw attention to ones self. A woman finally tapped me on the shoulder and asked what book I was reading, she HAD to get it if it was that funny (I hope she did and I hope she's enjoyed it as much as I). By the end of the book I was totally in love with Agnes Browne and her family.
Brendan O'Carroll has a gift for telling a story and he's told a wonderful one in "The Mammy". He weaves sights, sounds, people, and places into an enjoyable tale of a young, widowed mother of seven very different, but all loving, children. He also has something a lot of male writers don't have, a strong feel for women. The conversations between Agnes and Marion are believable, there are things best friends talk about with eachother that they'd NEVER discuss with anyone else. Especially in 1967 Ireland. And O'Carroll has captured it here.
Be warned though...The Mammy is not all laughs. As in real life there are some tears to be shed and you've a cold heart if you don't shed a few for Agnes and her family and friends. But it's the tears that make it all the more real.
I've recommended this book to dozens of people I know (and bought copies for my closest friends) and not a one has been disappointed and they've all thanked me for introducing them to Agnes Browne and her family. Though a few may have grumbled about staying up all night reading it all, because they just HAD to see what was going to happen next!
Do yourself a favor, BUY this book...And if you don't fall in love with Agnes and her brood, then hurry make an appointment with the doctor, because you've obviously misplaced your heart.
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on April 17, 2000
I have to admit that I am an avid reader, but not so avid that I read books in one sitting. NOT TRUE with The Mammy. I just simply couldn't put it down. After the first few chapters, I took the phone off the hook, got a glass of iced tea, and didn't move from my couch until I turned the last page. What did I do afterwards? Got up and went to the bookstore and bought The Chisellers. I read it in one sitting as well. After that, I got on the computer, logged onto Amazon UK and ordered The Granny (since it hasn't been released here yet.) I got it today, and finished it today as well.
Three of the best books I have ever read with one of the most memorable central characters ever.
Viva Agnes Browne!
And Bravo to Brendan O'Carroll for his amazing writing.
On a final note, thank you to Anjelica Huston. It was because of her movie, Agnes Browne, that I bought the book in the first place. So essentially, she is to thank for opening my eyes to three of the most amazing books I have ever come across!
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on September 9, 1999
The characters of Agnes and Marion are quickly developed thru their dialog. Their side-splitting conversations are very earthy though never lurid. I was delightfullly suprised how the tender and touching scenes O'Carroll portrayed cut across class distinctions. This small book covered an amazing gamit of human characteristics: the close loving relationship between Agnes and Marion which I thought was the backbone of the book, how Agnes' family loved one another and looked after each others wants and needs with an almost idealistic lack of selfishness. Mark was more of a player later in the book when he was 14. His industry, motivation and openness serves well as a role model (notwithstanding his little acts of chicanery) and I would hope this aspect is brought out in Anjelica Houston's forthcoming movie. One would have to be a real grump not to howl at some of scenes such as when Agnes bludgeoned Sister Magdalene with a cucumer and at the same time one would have to be pretty hard-hearted not to have a lump in their throat when Agnes' beloved friend Marion dies in her arms. The fairy tale ending brought the story to an apt stopping point. This is a great story, very fluent, easy reading and charged with humaness. I look forward to Brendan O'Carroll's next two parts of the trilogy.
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