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Dirty Laundry by Disha Bose: A welcome darkness to Irish village life

This debut novel undoubtedly establishes Bose as an exciting new voice in commercial fiction

Dirty Laundry
Author: Disha Bose
ISBN-13: 978-0241556153
Publisher: Viking
Guideline Price: £14.99

Dirty Laundry, the debut novel by Cork-based author Disha Bose, is offered up as a deliciously scandalous page-turner that exposes the dark underbelly of Irish village life. Three mothers in a small community – Ciara, Lauren and Mishti – are frenemies with plenty of secrets they don’t want revealed.

Ciara is the perfectly curated social media influencer with pristine children and a devoted clique of local mums; Lauren is the social outcast, judged for her free-spirited approach to parenting; Mishti, the most empathetically drawn of the three, is trapped in a loveless marriage far away from home. When one of them ends up murdered, the darker layers to their poisonous gossiping and societal performances are inevitably exposed.

Unsurprisingly, Bose’s light domestic noir draws comparisons to the TV show Desperate Housewives and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (also now a huge TV adaptation). While fans of these smash hits may enjoy an Irish incarnation of flawed women navigating suburbia with a side of murder, the characters here are much less complex and psychologically nuanced than their predecessors. While it is fantastic to see Bose unapologetically present women as capable of insidious, toxic behaviour, there is an absence of dimensionality in their characterisation that lessens their impact on the page and the potential for richer reader engagement. The narrative is stretched quite thinly, with too much exposition and repetition, where deeper psychological excavation and a sharper edit would have produced a tauter plot with better pacing.

Nonetheless, readers who are hungry for a feast of vicarious bitching and an exposé of the malice and manipulation that often underpins the Insta-perfect mommy culture, will surely be satisfied by Bose’s unrelenting peeling back of the filters. If there is a lesson to be learned from the truths that come out in this wash, it is, once again, a warning of the peril that comes with comparing your interior life to others’ exterior lives. As such, Dirty Laundry undoubtedly establishes Bose as an exciting new voice in commercial fiction, one that is sure to bring a little welcome darkness to summer holiday reading this year.

Helen Cullen

Helen Cullen

Helen Cullen, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a novelist and critic