When Alice was twelve the nuns had approached her about buying a black baby as a way of giving money to the missions. More than fifty years later, Alice has a visit from a strange black woman who offers friendship - but as a costly exchange for Alice's cherished preconceptions and old values.
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A touching story of companionship from one of the unsung heroes of contemporary Irish literature, Black Baby is a complex novel that traces the tragic and comic effects of human loneliness. Alice is an elderly spinster whose Christmas speech to her nephews ends with "I am all alone in the world. I have neither chick nor child" as she passes year by predictable year in the same Dublin house she was born in. One stormy night, Alice opens her door to Dinah, a spirited black woman whom Alice becomes convinced is the black baby she "adopted" from the missionaries of Africa when she was a child. This new-found daughter breathes warmth and energy into Alice's barren existence, and a friendship ensues that becomes the beloved focus of a lonely woman's life. Clare Boylan has written a moving novel that is punctuated with laugh-out-loud scenes of absurdity reminiscent of fellow Irishman Flann O'Brien: "...it was not Mrs Willoughby's hand which had struck the table, but her head. The vigilant glass eyes of the fox stared up from the bread plate, its dead paws flung out in alarm beside the dead head of its owner." Magical and absorbing, this book is a wonder to read. -- Shannon BinghamReview:
Sexual generosity triumphs over terrified frigidity, warmth dries out cold, renewal stamps out decay... This is a novelist who alters one's ways of seeing ( SUNDAY TIMES)
Splendidly original and richly comic... the writing is a joy ( IRISH TIMES)
The book I have read with the greatest pleasure, amusement and deep sympathy ( Molly Keane, SUNDAY TIMES)
Humorous and inventive... it spills over with affections for strangeness and wayward warmth ( THE TIMES)
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Book Description 1989-09-28., 1989. Book Condition: New. Penguin Books Ltd. New edition. Paperback. Book: GOOD. 224pp. . Bookseller Inventory # NF-1690538