Noëlle Harrison's first novel 'Beatrice' was a vivid account of lives left shattered by the disappearance of a beloved daughter and sister and how her loved ones set about rebuilding their lives. 'A Small Part of Me' focuses on the absence of a mother from her daughter's life and how, over nearly 30 years, the two women coped, or didn't, taking desperate measures to reconcile with the past.
Greta Comyn had everything - an adoring husband, a nice home and a beautiful daughter - which is why it's so difficult for her daughter Christina, now grown up with her own family, to understand why her mother left. With her own life in ruins, Christina makes the momentous decision to leave Ireland and go in search of her long-lost mother, taking her beloved younger son Cian with her, against his father's and the court's wishes.
On her journey through the Pacific North-West of America, Christina begins to remember her mother and tries to understand what drove her away. Intertwined with Christina's story is Greta's and we see how her idyllic existence became nightmarish almost overnight. Both Greta and Christina have demons to lay to rest and it's only in the telling of their stories that they are able to do so.
Harrison's skill is in unfolding both narratives side-by-side and keeping her readers interested with her vivid, almost picture-postcard descriptions of places. The emotion of the story is complex, but communicated in very simple language. Harrison seems more concerned that we should get the sense of Christina and Greta's story from the picture she creates for us rather than the words she uses.
'A Small Part of Me' is beautifully evocative and poignant. Harrison keeps it simple and that's what's so lovely about her writing. With a story that shows us as much as it tells us what's going on, Noëlle Harrison's voice is unique in Irish literature.