‘Liberty Terrace was a row of small red brick houses, all joined together, with front doors that opened right onto the street. There was a green space right across the street, a small park, with a few mature trees dotted here and there. Two larger houses stood alone in mature gardens nearby..’
– Liberty Terrace
[ About the Book ]
Liberty Terrace features a bevy of characters who reside in a fictional area of Cork City in the period 2016 to 2020. The inhabitants of Liberty Terrace come and go, and their lives occasionally intersect in stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes dark, often both. The cast of characters includes retired Garda Superintendent Deckie Google, a young homeless squatter, the mother of an autistic child working part-time as a Census Enumerator, the dysfunctional Callinan family, an ageing rock star, a trio of ladies who visit a faith healer, a philandering husband, as well as a surprising number of cats and dogs. These stories shed light on how we lived before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, on what we care about and on what, if anything, we can truly count on.
[ My Review ]
Liberty Terrace by Madeleine D’Arcy was published October 2021 and is a collection of linked short stories set in a fictional part of Cork City. Now, as many of you know, I am a proud Cork woman, so while reading this collection, I was placing Liberty Terrace in a few different locations that I felt would fit the stories which very much added to my enjoyment of this charming and engaging collection. There is also a handy map at the beginning that provides a visual layout of Liberty Terrace and its residents.
In general I am not a huge reader of the short story, but the instant appeal of Liberty Terrace was obviously the Cork connection but also that all the stories were linked, joined together, just like the row of houses that make up Liberty Terrace itself. Madeleine D’Arcy frames her stories within the period of 2016 and 2020. The characters cross paths at various intervals over the years as their lives move forward in a variety of ways with the Pandemic making an appearance but not in any loud manner.
There are thirteen stories in all, some more affecting than others, but all providing a glimpse behind the front doors of the homes on Liberty Terrace, with the exception of the Census enumerator, who appears in a few stories but lives 2 kms away. I did read that Madeleine D’Arcy had experience working as a Census enumerator and the delayed 2021 Census due to Covid was an inspiration when writing Liberty Terrace.
Quite an ingenious concept, Madeleine D’Arcy really puts personality into all the inhabitants capturing their ups and downs, as the wheels of life keep turning. Some stories are darker than others but the mix provides the perfect balance for all readers to become immersed in the lives of this small community.
With any collection of short stories there are personal favourites and, for me, it was The Silence of the Crows and Human Soup. In just a few pages, Madeleine D’Arcy captures a poignancy, a pain, a hopelessness and a hopefulness. It is an artform in itself to imbue such feeling into so few words, to be able to balance the everyday with the personal sufferings and to really bring to life the mental anguish and the fear that we all inevitably face at some time in our lives.
Liberty Terrace has been described by Danielle McLaughlin, author of The Art of Falling, as ‘intimate, humane and wickedly funny’. It has an energy that encapsulates life in a small community where everyone knows, or thinks they know, everyone else’s business. A very creative idea was the Census enumerator, as her character gains access in to many of the homes, providing a unique insight into a moment in time in the resident’s life.
Liberty Terrace is a very confident collection of short stories that will appeal to many, but in particular to readers who can fully appreciate the mastery required to write in this style. As I turned the final page I almost went in search of Liberty Terrace to see if I might bump into any of the residents and discover what has happened to them since Madeleine D’Arcy left them!
Authentic, original and unobtrusive, Liberty Terrace is a clever and considered collection of short stories and is OUT NOW with Doire Press.
Purchase Link – Liberty Terrace
[ Bio ]
Madeleine D’Arcy was born in Ireland. She spent thirteen years in the UK, where she worked as a criminal legal aid solicitor and as a legal editor in London. She returned to Ireland in 1999 and lives in Cork City with her husband and son.
Madeleine began to write fiction in 2005. In 2010 she received the Hennessy Literary Award for First Fiction and the overall Hennessy Literary Award for New Irish Writer. Her debut short story collection, Waiting for the Bullet (Doire Press, 2014), won the Edge Hill Readers Choice Prize 2015 (UK).
She holds an MA in Creative Writing from University College Cork and has been awarded bursaries by the Arts Council of Ireland and Cork City Council.
Together with Danielle McLaughlin, she co-hosts Fiction at the Friary, a free monthly fiction event held in Cork City since 2017.
Twitter – @MadeleineDL