The story of three girls – Sheila, Phil and Mary – growing up into the new emerging post-conflict Belfast of money, drugs, high fashion and crime; and of their lives and loves.
Sheila, a supermodel, is kidnapped. Phil is sent to prison. Mary, surviving a drug overdose, has a spiritual awakening.
It is also the story of the men who matter to them –
John Branagh, former candidate for the priesthood, a modern Darcy, someone to love or hate. Will he and Sheila ever get together? Davy Hagan, drug dealer, ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. Is Phil also mad to have anything to do with him?
Although from different religious backgrounds, starting off as childhood friends, the girls manage to hold on to that friendship in spite of everything.
A book about contemporary Ireland and modern life. A book which both men and women can enjoy – thriller, romance, comedy, drama – and much more ….
My Review: Belfast Girls follows the lives of three girls from girlhood to adulthood. As they grow up, their social circle expands, sometimes including unsavory characters intent on dragging them down. Their early adult lives are marred by the gangsters and drugs which eventually shape all their lives in very different ways. Sheila is a level-headed, career-driven woman who becomes a model. Though she could settle down with any number of men (movie stars, race car drivers), she can’t keep her mind off John, her university crush whose strict made-up rules come between them. Phil has a solid moral backbone, but has blinders on when it comes to Davy. She’s willing to overlook her own sense of right and wrong, and even willing to lose everything, to protect her lover. Mary succumbs early on to the lure of drugs and partying, but finds happiness in spirituality. The three friends live very separate lives, but always seem to find their way back to each other, with their friendships not only intact, but stronger than ever.
From the very start, Belfast Girls was a book I couldn’t put down. By the end of the book, I loved the main female characters as if they were my own best friends, and I felt as if I’d known them all my life. I was very sad to see the book end. Though I did not like John through much of the book, he showed his true colors when it counted and redeemed himself in my eyes. Through self-reflection, John matures and changes.
The author weaves history and facts about the region into her tale, and I feel like I learned something while being entertained. I enjoy realistic books that explore human nature, and this book was perfect. McCullough’s characters undergo tremendous character development as they navigate tragedy, disappointment, heartbreak, and success. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written book with top notch characters, an engrossing plot, and beautiful storytelling.