You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here: Lively debut novel

Book review: Frances Macken explores female friendship and ambition

Frances Macken examines the intricacies and anxieties of female friendship in her debut novel

Frances Macken examines the intricacies and anxieties of female friendship in her debut novel

There’s plenty of fun to be had in Frances Macken’s debut novel, a lively story about a small town girl with big dreams. Set in the fictional west of Ireland town of Glenbruff, You Have to Make Your Fun Around Here vividly captures life in a close-knit community, while examining the intricacies and anxieties of female friendship. We first meet Katie, the book’s narrator, as a child, tearing around the fields near her house with her best friends Evelyn and Maeve. The depiction of the trio is relatable and evocative: Evelyn the daredevil; Katie the centrist; Maeve the one that gets in by default. As Macken highlights from the beginning, when you’re young you don’t get to choose your friends. Cousins, siblings, neighbours are really the luck of the draw.

From Claremorris, Co Mayo, the author has a BA in film and television production from Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and a masters in creative writing from Oxford. Her work has been shortlisted for national short story awards run by RTÉ and Penguin Ireland. She lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel bears comparison to another recent debut, Michelle Gallen’s Big Girl, Small Town, though the latter’s prose is more finely tuned.

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