Review: Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson

Title: Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

Author: Kerry Hudson

Published: Penguin US January 2014

Status: Read from January 19 to 20, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Janie Ryan narrates ‘Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma’ from the moment of her birth, greeted by curse laden screaming, boozy breath and muttered recriminations. Her teenage mother lasts barely a week under her mothers roof before she drags Janie first to a refuge, then through a series of rundown council flats and B&B’s in the worst areas of Scotland and briefly, England. Uncle’s come and go, some stay only a night, others, like Tony Hogan, far too long. As a child, Janie takes comfort in her ragged collection of toys, full plates of hot chips, orange velour curtains and the occasional icecream, accepting her mother’s days spent in bed, the violent altercations with a succession of men and moonlight flits as a normal part of everyday life. But as she grows into a teenager Janie becomes aware of her mother’s failings, of the poverty and despair that blights their lives and of a desire to escape the cycle that ensnared her mother.

This is a novel driven by character rather than plot. Janie is an irresistible heroine who begins the story with a wide eyed innocence that far too soon develops into defeated cynicism. Bright and loved, as a child Janie shares her grim existence with the naivete of one who doesn’t know any different. Hudson vividly portrays the world in which Janie lives – the dingy rooms, the barren council estates, the empty pantries and broken furniture overlaid with the ever present threat of violence and despair. And just as deftly, Hudson allows Janie, as she ages, to share her growing disillusionment – with her mother, with herself and the possibility anything could ever be any different. It seems there is no escape for Janie who seems destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Janie’s journey is heavily influenced by her relationship with her mother, Iris, and Hudson skilfully captures the complicated dynamic between mother and daughter. Despite her mother’s failings, Janie loves her and her mother in turn loves Janie. It is evident that Janie suffers because of Iris’s depression, addictions and penchant for the wrong sort of man though Hudson neatly side steps judgement and blame, focusing instead on the bond between them.

Despite its often bleak and brutal narrative, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma is told with empathy, humour and surprising heart. I found it funny, moving and heartbreaking in turn, and I think you will too.

Available to Purchase From

Penguin I AmazonUS I BookDepository


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kailana
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 02:39:33

    This title would definitely catch my attention in a store. It’s a different one!



  2. booksaremyfavouriteandbest
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 17:12:51

    Loved this book.



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