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Memoirs of Dublin Series

Martha Long
Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes by Martha Long
Ma, It's a Cold Aul Night an I'm Lookin for a Bed by Martha Long
Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World by Martha Long

Memoirs of Dublin Series : Titles in Order

Book 4
Sixteen-year-old Martha’s luck is finally changing. Taken in by a kind young priest, Father Ralph Fitzgerald, and his wealthy mother, she gets a taste of “how the other half lives” and resolves to make a better life for herself once and for all. Soon she’s off to school to become a secretary: her ticket to a respectable middle-class existence. But even as her fortune improves–she has a roof over her head, food in her belly, and the freedom to do as she pleases–the love and community she has sought since she was a child continue to elude her. Her friendship with Father Ralph, the first person to make her feel truly special, may hold the key to her happiness. However, as their friendship becomes something more, Martha discovers that love can heal–but it can also hurt, deeply. In Ma, Now I’m Goin Up in the World, Martha navigates 1960s Ireland with her trademark compassion, optimism, and fiery strength. But will these traits be enough to see her through the greatest challenge of her life thus far?
Book 3
The next installment of the Ma books—all bestsellers in Ireland and the UK—brings readers on the journey of Martha’s first months of freedom in Dublin after leaving the convent where she spent her early adolescence. 

In the latest chapter of Martha Long’s autobiographical series, Martha is for the first time on her own: discharged from the convent, she’s finally 16, the age she’d long dreamed of as the doorway to her freedom from the whims of cruel adults. “Life is a bowl of cherries!” she reasons as she sets out to blend in with the middle classes and find love, acceptance, and respect therein. But this is also Dublin in the 1960s, where class aspirations ain’t so easy for the likes of Martha. 

As one job and bedsit is found (and lost), another soon comes along with its own foibles and dangers . . . but with her signature spirit and true grit, Martha makes the best of every situation and manages to offer compassion even to the most downtrodden of characters who cross her path. Chance meetings with old friends from the convent and a fortuitous (yet brief) reunion with two of her brothers remind Martha of all she has experienced (and survived) and serves as the impetus for her to keep going . . . even when homelessness is all but certain. 

As with her previous books, Ma, It’s a Cold Aul Night an I’m Lookin for a Bed has us cheering for Martha. This time she doesn’t have any nuns or abusive stepfathers preventing her from making progress . . . but life does still get in the way, and that bowl of cherries sometimes proves to be a bit more sour than Martha would hope.
Book 2
After numerous arrests for shoplifting, Martha is sent to the convent where, the judge rules, she is to get an education. Martha is relieved to be out of the clutches of her horrible drunken stepfather, Jackser, and her feckless mother, Sally, but anxious about what awaits. Her days in the convent are steady, predictable, safe–everything that her life had not been prior to being sent away. But as she says, “You can have a full belly, but your heart can be very empty.” Put to back-breaking work by the nuns, and treated cruelly by the other children–they’ve marked her as a “street kid”–Martha works hard, keeps to herself, and steals away when she can with a cherished book. But Martha pines for simple affection, keeping after the Sisters day after day with the hope of an arm laid across her shoulders or a tender look. When her siblings arrive at the convent–taken from their mother by the courts–Martha is thrilled to again be with family and care for the babies. But then Sally and Jackser arrive to take the children home and beg Martha to return and help care for the kids. Martha makes a wrenching decision to stay behind, knowing with an unnatural foresight for such a young girl that they will all drag her down and possibly out forever. She must find her own way. She is thirteen.
Book 1
“Not for the faint of heart, Long’s story is a gritty, grueling, and heartbreaking testament to one girl’s unbreakable spirit.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

When Martha Long’s feckless mother hooks up with the Jackser (“that bandy aul bastard”), and starts having more babies, the abuse and poverty in the house grow more acute. Martha is regularly sent out to beg and more often steal, and her wiles (as a child of 7, 8) are often the only thing keeping food on the table. Jackser is a master of paranoid anger and outburst, keeping the children in an unheated tenement, unable to go to school, at the ready for his unpredictable rages. Then Martha is sent by Jackser to a man he knows in exchange for the price of a few cigarettes. She is nine. She is filthy, lice-ridden, outcast. Martha and Ma escape to England, but for an itinerant Irishwoman finding work in late 1950s England is a near impossibility. Martha treasures the time alone with her mother, but amazingly Ma pines for Jackser and they eventually return to Dublin and the other children. And yet there are prized cartoon magazines, the occasional hidden penny to buy the children sweets, the glimpse of loving family life in other houses, and Martha’s hope that she will soon be old enough to make her own way.

Virtually uneducated, Martha Long is natural-born storyteller. Written in the vernacular of the day, the reader is tempted to speak like Martha for the rest of a day (and don’t let me hear yer woman roarin’ bout it neither). One can’t help but cheer on this mischievous, quick-witted, and persistent little girl who has captured hearts across Europe.
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