A History of Running Away by Paula McGrath

A history of running away

I am indebted to Ruby Mitchell at Hodder for an advanced reader copy of A History of Running Away by Paula McGrath in return for an honest review.

A History of Running Away will be published in e-book and hardback by John Murray on 15th June 2017 and is available for purchase here.

A History of Running Away

A history of running away

In 1982 Jasmine wants to box, but in 1980s Ireland boxing is illegal for girls.

In 2012 a gynaecologist agonises about a job offer which would mean escape from the increasingly fraught atmosphere of her Dublin hospital. But what about her mother, stuck in a nursing home?

And in Maryland Ali, whose mother has recently died, hooks up with a biker gang to escape from grandparents she didn’t know she had.

Gradually revealing the unexpected connections between the three women, A History of Running Away is a brilliantly written novel about running away, growing up and finding out who you are.

My review of A History of Running Away

Running away isn’t always the answer to life’s difficulties – but it can help.

I don’t know what it is about female Irish writers, but they somehow seem to be able to convey extreme emotion completely effortlessly and Paula McGrath is no exception. I loved A History of Running Away because it transported me into the lives of the women between its pages so fully I simply could not stop reading until I had consumed the entire novel in one sitting.

There is a cleverly planned plot that weaves initially seemingly disparate strands together in such a satisfying manner, but A History of Running Away is so much more than just a good story. Through its pages Paula McGrath explores social history and attitudes. She gives the reader a sometimes brutal and disturbing picture of what it is to be female in the early 1980s as well as more recently, so that there is a strong feminist undercurrent that works brilliantly without being aggressively overstated. I could quite easily see myself in the position of any of the women in this story. I also found the violence portrayed very disturbing. It is by no means graphic, but based in cruelty, sexism and racism it felt all too familiar and real. Paula McGrath skilfully makes the reader consider society’s attitudes whilst she entertains.

I loved the structure of the novel. The different voices are distinct and authentic and I found the lack of speech punctuation added to this feeling. A History of Running Away has a natural flow to the style so that it feels more like eavesdropping on real lives than reading about characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A History of Running Away. From the metaphorical to the literal meaning in the title as characters run away from their debts, their families and their own mistakes, to the exploration of how we find our own identity in a world that seeks to define and control us I thought Paula McGrath had produced a pitch perfect novel that ultimately left me feeling uplifted and positive. A History of Running Away is a superb book.

About Paula McGrath

paula mcgrath

Paula McGrath lives in Dublin. Her first novel, Generation, was published in 2015, and described as ‘remarkable’ by the Sunday Times. She has a background in English Literature and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Limerick. In another life she was a yoga teacher.

You can follow Paula on Twitter and visit her website

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