Then there are the expletives…

I don’t usually share reviews of The Accidental Wife, I feel they are for readers to browse at their leisure, and not for me to gloat over…and then this one comes along!

Oh Happy Day!

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first review that has been generated by the Libraries NI public massed-reading project The Armagh Big Read. And it’s the first review which I know for a fact has been written by a Northern Irish reader from the “other” tradition.

What a relief! I can’t help sharing it. My first Armagh Big Read review, written by Angeline King, author of Snugville Street, and she “gets it”, she really, really gets it!

There’s the language of farming and it’s sharp and metaphorical in a way that only one familiar with the metal spike on a velvet-soft muzzle could imagine, “The bull’s nostrils slammed open on the instant and he sucked in a huge, shuddering breath, rasping like a stone caught under a tight-fitting door.” There’s Irish mixed with Scots mixed with Middle English, all churning into buttery swirls of Ulster dialect on the page.

And then there are the expletives…

Then there are the expletives. Orla McAlinden excels at expletives and she sprays them like a deadly weapon charged with poetry, rhythm, pathos and comedy. Jesus! The bastard. Jesus! Insufferable bollocks. Jesus! Useless bollocks! Christ! Pillock. Jesus. Shut up to fuck. For Christ’s sake! Jesus. Thon wee bastard. Fuck it to hell and back. Jesus. Fuck and shit and crap and damn.

I had to write in the authentic language of my childhood, but I know it wasn’t the soundtrack to a lot of Northern Irish lives; in the homes of those often referred to as “good livers” one never took the name of the Lord in vain. I will admit to a few pangs of concern about the language of my characters as The Armagh Big Read draws closer…


Thank God, at least one reader in The Big Armagh Read recognises the poetry and the vigour and the authenticity of “the expletives”. Read the full review here

I can’t emphasise enough, how much I would love to see more reviews from those who have read The Accidental Wife (as part of the Armagh Big Read, or not.) On Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon or on your own personal blogs…sooner or later, I’ll find them. Or post them to The Armagh Big Read. I can’t expect them all to be glowing…but I’d like to read your thoughts before I head up to Armagh in March to speak with the members of Libraries NI!!!



  1. Orla, I have been meaning to read and review your book for ages. I keep getting sidetracked by other deadlines. Will make a note to read and review it before end of March. Will let you know when the review is up. Great to see your well deserved success.

  2. Dear Orla,

    g Godness knows when I’ll get reading your novel eyes overworked on research, print is so small. But I wanted to congratulate you on being Armagh’s BIG READ. I also wanted to shout encouragements on your expletives. My world was much more costive . . . my father got corrected if he referred to ‘quitting time’ so what hope for expletives, but it is critical to authenticity to record speech as it was used.

    People do wonderful work on folklore, but the actual way people speak in different families and communities has less attention. One more important role for fiction.

    Good luck with your readings. Hoping to get to Dublin . . .we might meet on the train!

    All the best,


    • Thank so much Anne. I’m delighted to hear from you. I won’t be on the train, unfortunately, I live in Kildare, so Dublin is only a hop skip and jump away (depending on traffic!) I do hope we meet at the Irish Writers Centre. Good luck with the research. my email is orlamcalindenauthor(at)gmail(dot) com if you send me your email address I have a story I think you might like to read.

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