I came across Deidre Madden back at the start of May when I read Molly Fox's birthday which was shortlisted for the Orange prize. I really loved her style of writing, so I sought out other of her books. On the back of her success with Molly Fox, it seems that her earlier works are being reprinted, and were ordered in by my local library, and I was the first to borrow two books which I've now read.
The first was One by one in the darkness. This is the tale of three sisters, Sally, Helen and Kate, and tells us about their very different lives when they come together at their mother's house for a week, the week before the 1994 IRA ceasefire. However, it is also the story of their childhood, growing up in Northern Ireland under the IRA, which was fractured by the devastating death of their father as a result of this regime. I gained a really good impression of what it was to live through these times and thought that the characterisation was beautiful and the book extremely well constructed.
The second was The birds of the innocent wood. I didn't find this as enjoyable as the other novel but it was still good. This book is about Jane, an orphan, who hopes that marriage will offer her escape from a lonely life. However, life is not so straightforward and circumstances are complicated by the presence of another woman with whom her husband becomes involved.
I would certainly commend Deidre Madden's books to you if you have not read any of her before. I found this quote on the Faber and Faber website from the Observer which really sums up her writing:
"Madden's achievement is to make partial revelations about obscure lives as gripping as a thriller. Her style is passionate, emotional, but never obvious and does not admit a single cliché or badly written sentence.' Observer"
I've just found out that she won the Rooney prize for Irish literature for her novel Hidden Symptoms, but unfortunately my library doesn't yet have this. *edit* so I have just bought it from Amazon - apparently it is her first novel, and the blurbs on Amazon look intriguing!