Katherine Elizabeth, Full of Grace
Ericson’s slim debut novel tells the story of Kittie McDermott, born in Roscommon, Ireland in 1888, the only daughter in a large and impoverished family. The country is still reeling from the devastation of the Potato Famine, and Ericson describes the scene with a good eye for detail and a very becoming rhetorical restraint. We follow the character of Kittie as she goes about the decidedly non-glamorous chores of daily life, with the author’s clear intent being, in part, to present a detailed view of what everyday life was like for ordinary people in Ireland at the time. This approach can lead to certain moments of anti-climax, but when Kittie leaves home and begins to interact with a wider variety of characters, the story’s pace picks up and carries the reader right through to the well-done, ambiguous ending.
The book is longer on atmosphere than story, but anybody with Irish ancestors will read it eagerly.