‘All Over Belfast’: History, Loss, and Potential in Lucy Caldwell’s Where They Were Missed
Lucy Caldwell’s debut novel Where They Were Missed (2006) is set in Belfast and Donegal during the Troubles in the 1980s and 1990s. It portrays the childhood and adolescence of Saoirse, the daughter of a ‘mixed marriage’—her father is an RUC officer and her mother is a Catholic from Donegal. Their marriage begins to crumble due to her sister Daisy’s sudden death amidst the stifling sectarian atmosphere, and Saoirse is left to fend for herself. Similarly, Caldwell’s third novel, All the Beggars Riding (2013) also addresses a childhood shaped by the Troubles, a broken marriage, and the loss of a family member. It is set in the contemporary moment, but the protagonist Lara, now forty, also describes flashbacks to her youth in London when she learns of her father’s death in an accident. He was a plastic surgeon who travelled back and forth between London and his hometown of Belfast to tend to wounded Troubles victims. However, as it turns out, he has an entire second family based there. This chapter explores the ways in which loss and domestic conflict intersect with the civil conflict of the Troubles in Caldwell’s novels.
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