By Kitty Fitzgerald
Published by Iron Press
Reviewed by Jessica Patient
Miranda’s Shadow, Kitty Fitzgerald’s debut short story collection, brings together sharp, provocative stories full of rich details. The collection is full of Irish legends, caged girls, shadow chasing, finding love, escaping the clutches of evil MPs and talkative parrots.
The press have talked a lot about books always being about middle class people and their middle class woes. Miranda’s Shadow is one of those books that breaks the mould. Many of Fitzgerald’s stories have working class people struggling to find their way in society. The Knowledge sees a farmer struggling to feed his family and has to go up against a local family tradition. The Instrument Bar has a protagonist who works in a bar, trying to stay out of trouble but can’t resist a bundle of bank notes, hidden in a cupboard. Fitzgerald creates characters who are adrift from society, observing life from the side lines, trying to find strength to fit with society. In particular, Once Were Angels Here reminded me of Kerry Hudson’s Tony Hogan Bought me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. Both stories look the struggle of a child protagonist living on a council estate, wanting to break away and not end up with the same life as their parents.
Fitzgerald peels back the veneer of society and is not afraid to delve into controversial topics. Hunted looks into paedophilia through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy, Colin who is being pursed, bribed and groomed by a local MP. Caged tackles girls in cages who are for sex in an Eastern country.
There is one thing that I didn’t quite like but I’m sure other people may not mind. Some of the stories try to squeeze a moral into the end, which does seem a bit old fashioned and it seems to me that the author is talking down to the reader. In The City of Dreams, Jane, who thinks a man she meets has attacked several women and reports him to the police. But by the end of the story she realises that his strange behaviour was down to mental health issues. This story would have probably worked better without the explicit telling of the moral as she explains her behaviour to another character.
Before reading Miranda’s Shadow, I had heard of Kitty Fitzgerald but I had not read any of her novels. I will definitely read Fitzgerald’s novels after reading this collection.