by PETER SHERIDAN
When Philo knocks on the door of the Good Shephard convent seeking sanctuary from her husband Tommo, it's not just her own life she's about to overhaul. Swearing and smoking like a trooper, she sticks out like a sore thumb amidst all that convent holiness, but to both the nuns and the OAPs at the day-care centre, whose bitternesses and loves have been simmering away for years, Philo's earthiness and honesty bring just the kind of lifeforce they've been missing. While fighting a battle with her weight and a war with social services, who've temporarily placed her children in a local orphanage, Philo artlessly manages to heal social rifts that have split the community and her family for years. Sheridan's charming debut novel is beautifully characterised and alive with the sights and sounds of Dublin's North Wall. In turns moving, hilarious, raw and heart-warming, this gem of a story is hard to resist.