Mimi Malloy At Last is a story about falling down, sometimes a very long way down, getting lost, and getting back up, scarred and damaged but still whole in the ways that matter. It’s about coming of age and discovering who you are at whatever age you happen to be. It is full of memories – lost memories, false memories, and memories reclaimed.
When she is forced into an early retirement, Mimi Malloy is content to enjoy the simple pleasures of her life: cigarettes, coffee, and Sinatra, plus the deepening friendship with the super in her building, Duffy. But she happens to have six beautiful daughters with whom she has complicated relationships, plus four living sisters and two dead ones who won’t stay away, and another dead sister whose disappearance at a young age is a mystery.
Mimi does not remember very much about her own childhood other than the bare facts: her mother died, her father remarried soon afterward, and her stepmother was mean to them. Then one sister was sent away and she and five of her sisters went to live with their grandmother and their father died soon after. But there are few details and Mimi is content to have it that way until the doctor tells her her brain is literally full of holes and a nephew’s genealogy project for school brings all the sisters and various daughters together. Then begins a real hero’s journey to face and reclaim the past and through doing so heal much about the present.
Julia McDonnell treats her characters with sympathy while never failing to show their flaws. The story is a modern fairy tale, complete with two sets of beautiful daughters, a wicked stepmother, ghosts who just feel like a natural part of the story, and a lot of deep psychological insight presented in a totally unpretentious fashion. It is a story about abuse, superstition, and the power of love between siblings and sisters to sometimes heal and overcome great odds.
Many readers will understand and relate to Mimi Malloy. Even those who don’t should find her journey engrossing and truly extraordinary. It is rare to find a novel which deals realistically with the problems of aging and admits the possibility of finding the prince when he’s a senior citizen, and still tells a story full of both horror and redemption. MacDonnell has done that. The book is highly recommended.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B00FIL9BYW]