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Book Review: "The Mammy" by Brendan O'Carroll

Across the pond in the UK, the BBC has a comedy called Mrs. Brown's Boys, created by comedian Brendan O'Carroll. I've been a big fan of the show for about two years, and always find watching it to be a rip roaring good time, even though I've seen each episode about a dozen times. The show was originally based in part on O'Carroll's book called The Mammy. Since I love the show, I decided to check it out.

Both the show and the book focus on Agnes Brown, a Irish widow, as she struggles to raise her children in North Dublin. Agnes runs a fruit stand at the local market, and can be a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered mother who is very protective of her children when they are threatened. Although the language on the show can be a bit strong, it is worth dealing with a few f-bombs for all the laughs.

First, if you are familiar with the show, you'll find be surprised to find that the book takes place in an different era. The show is set in modern day Ireland, and Agnes' children are grown up. The book takes place in the 1960s, and her children are still children. The Mammy is fun romp through the life of Agnes Brown as she adjusts to being very recently widowed. The antidotal tales that make up each chapter touch on just about every emotion. One minute, I found myself laughing hysterically, and then the next the book was tugging away at my heartstrings.

There are some truly classic moments in the book, and it is Agnes' deadpan humor makes even the most tragic moments entertaining. The first few pages start with tragedy as Agnes Brown is waiting in the social services office trying to ensure that she doesn't lose any of her widow's benefits on the very afternoon that her husband died. You should feel sad for her, but her efforts to convince the clerk that her husband is dead without a death certificate force you to smile.

The Mammy was a truly enjoyable read, and one that I found hard to put down. It is filled with colorful characters, irreverent humor, and just the right touch of humanity. If you are like me, you'll find this book to be one that you will want to go back and read again, simply because it felt good to read it the first time. I'd highly recommend The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll.

And for those who have never seen the show, I've included a couple clips. Enjoy!

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