When Kobo approached us looking for eBooks that show the strength and love of mothers for their special mother’s day promotion, we had the perfect title: On Charlotte’s Shoulders by Julie Monahan. The promotion will run on their website for 5 days and is also supported with email mail-shots that go out to their customers.
Julie went to a life writing course at City Lit in London after she retired, with the idea to tell the story of her childhood – the story of her mother. She felt that too many Irish biographies were told from a male and mainly middle-class perspective. She wanted to share her history exactly as she remembered it, warts and all. Written in the voice of a herself as a child, there is a precious naivety and honesty as she describes the raw poverty of her environment and early years.
In a dank Dublin tenement in 1942, Julie meets a stranger – her father. Like her severely ill sisters, her father is on the periphery of her early family life, whereas her ma is her bedrock – a feisty hard-working woman who singlehandedly struggles to put food on the table and shoes on the feet of her large family, and does not suffer fools gladly.
Young Julie plays happily in the street with her siblings and cousins, dreaming of being a singer, unaware of many of her ma’s daily battles and ignorant of a better life, but as she grows into a young woman and sees her family go through poverty, illness and heart-breaking troubles, she understands the extent of her ma’s bravery.
On Charlotte’s Shoulders is a touching family portrait of the challenges of Irish family life in the 40s and 50s.