It’s spring 1912, and 14-year-old Mollie Carberry lives in Drumcondra with her loving but distracted parents, her older sister Phyllis, her spoiled older brother Harry and her saintly little sister Julia. Mollie’s convinced that her life is boring - until she discovers that Phyllis is a secret suffragette. After attending a suffrage meeting, Mollie wants to do something for the movement too – and she soon convinces her best friend Nora to join her. At last, they have some excitement in their lives!
While some of their classmates approve of their new cause, others can’t see the point. Their timid schoolfriend Stella worries that Mollie and Nora are going to get into trouble. And their classmate Grace, who also happens to be Nora’s cousin, disapproves of anybody who steps out of line. Despite this general apathy, as the weeks go by, Mollie and Nora become even more determined to do something for the cause. Even though nobody in the cause seems to particularly want their help.
Author Anna Carey describes the process of writing her first ever historical novel here.
Irish author Carey … presents a gentle and readable account of Mollie's activism and a charming picture of Dublin life at the time … The story unfolds as a series of letters Mollie writes to her friend Frances, away at boarding school; her voice is reminiscent of another historic heroine, Anne of Green Gables, only with an Irish lilt. The plot is realistic and satisfying. Mollie and Nora don't achieve greatness, but in the end they know they've made a contribution to a worthwhile cause … lovely … with an unusual setting
I was immediately drawn into this story by the easy tone of 14-year-old Mollie writing to her friend at boarding school. The book is set in Dublin, 1912, when Home Rule was being lobbied for. Another struggle was surfacing, too, not universally welcomed; women were arguing that the new parliamentary vote should be for all, and not just half, the population. We soon learn through Mollie’s letters that her older sister has a secret: Phyllis is a suffragette! The plot revolves around the irrepressible Mollie becoming both politically aware and active. At first, she notices that her brother gets the best bits of chicken at supper. And he is allowed to relax afterwards while she and her sisters have to do the darning. From such gentle observations, Anna Carey builds up a kind of Girls’ Own picture of the unequal status of women. The family servant, Maggie tartly sums up her own shaky existence, ‘I may very well be part of the family, but it’s a part that can be sent packing without a reference.’ As well as this wonderful humour, Carey makes excellent use of sources. Heckles at one of the rallies Mollie sneaks off to are quotations from contemporary news reports. The slang used is drawn from yearbooks of the (actual) school that Mollie attends. And Mollie’s final act of daring is rooted in the court records of the day … if you approach this as the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft sung to the tune of Malory Towers it works quite delightfully. I, for one, curled up on the couch and did not put it down
Historical Novel Society Review
The Making of Mollie drops the feisty titular character into the radical political and social suffragette movement. I loved this book because the plot intertwines everyday life, school problems and feminism to create a realistic portrait of an Irish schoolgirl in the early twentieth century … The spectre of arrest and violence that looms over the schoolgirls’ antics shows the struggle that the suffragettes went through for a simple human right. This just adds a touch of tension and fear into the otherwise mischievous schoolgirls’ antics … although many will promote this novel to a female audience, I would strongly recommend it to boys as well, because the story is about a significant historical period that changed society … an interesting historical novel, with a splash of girl power added for good measure
Mollie’s world changes in ways she couldn’t have imagined as she discovers the lengths that women have to go to for their basic human rights. This book was a riveting read. The part that I liked best was when Mollie was spying on her sister Phyllis, and decided to follow her … it was exciting to find out that she was a suffragette fighting for women’s rights!! … It was an important and thought provoking read and I really enjoyed the depths of the subject matter
a very good book … the topic itself was really interesting
The History Show, RTE Radio 1
for junior feminists … must-read
engaging … although the book is set in 1912, Carey brings to life Mollie’s social and academic struggles in a way that makes the book strikingly relevant to the teenagers of today. A historical novel with a contemporary edge
Sunday Business Post
the book sets out to teach, in an engaging way, readers about the fight for suffrage in early nineteenth-century Ireland, when the country was already divided on Home Rule. It does this quite successfully, along with historical details about school life and home life for the Irish middle classes. I loved Mollie – she is rebellious but not unruly; she is thoughtful and funny. I liked the (unintentional, from the protagonist’s point of view) humorous asides, the sibling squabbling and the interactions between schoolmates
an excellent portrayal of life in Dublin 1912 … the strength of the story is the drama within Mollie’s family running in tandem with the threatened upheaval in society where the authorities and most of the male population are against the suffragette movement
a cracking book
really lovely … super story … strong writing
Sean O’Rourke Show, RTE Radio 1
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Today’s criticisms of “feminists” are eerily similar to the complaints made about suffragettes in 1912. The Making of Mollie (O’Brien Press, €8.99) is Anna Carey’s first venture into historical fiction for younger readers, although it is just as relevant – and conversational (although with period slang) – as her contemporary novels. Mollie, along with her best friend, takes her first tentative steps into Dublin’s growing suffrage movement after discovering her sister is a supporter of the cause. But how much can two teenage girls really do – especially with the everyday worries of mean classmates and wretched siblings to contend with? This is an important and most of all incredibly readable depiction of a feminist awakening, one that balances the big important issues with day-to-day life – the unfairness of one’s older brother always getting more chicken at dinner, for example. It concentrates on a much-neglected aspect of Irish history – typically overshadowed by the focus on Home Rule – while also serving as a call to action. “Votes for women” seems like such a basic right today, but when it was scrawled all over Dublin more than a century ago it seemed radical. The modern parallel is clear.
a lively narrative, with a feisty heroine and an inspirational cause, which should ensure its popularity with a generation of young female readers perhaps only vaguely aware of the sacrifices made to secure their emancipation
The Making of Mollie is an easy, enjoyable and important read. Wonderful characters that ring true with strong voices, it crafts a story that is pertinent and interesting. Filled with historical facts, the perspective of the tale gives a unique view, not only of the suffragette movement in Ireland, but of the surrounding social and political atmosphere. The inclusion of Mollie's day-to-day life makes it easy to relate to and adds much insight into ordinary life in a changing world. It is expressed in such a way that Mollie not only tells a story, but invites the reader into it; and to investigate, find out more, wonder and think about the events and the effect it has even today. While it may seem of more interest to girls, there is much here for everyone to consider. An exciting, inspiring read for ages 10+. A book that will make you want to know more!
Fallen Star Stories
CBI Recommended Reads 2016
Suffragettes rule! A girl’s eye view of early feminism … this shows just what the suffragettes were up against, as well as how exciting it is to be part of a political movement. It’s told through letters Mollie sends to a friend, and this makes it both immediate and vivid, with the impulsive, daring Mollie a very appealing narrato
Anna Carey's first historical book is written in a way that will help young readers understand what was going on in Dublin in 1914, as well as give an insight into the bravery of Irish women at the time. But it is not just about the major events occurring at the time; while the Making of Mollie is exciting, fact-accurate and dramatic, Anna's inclusion of normal everyday life - sibling fights, worried friends, and disapproving classmates - really helps to bring the novel to life