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The Young Wan Plume Brendan O’Carroll


10th July 2013 Literature & Fiction 29 Comments

Before she was a Mammy, before she had Chisellers, and before they made her a Granny, Agnes Browne was Agnes Reddin, a young girl-or a Young Wan- growing up in the Jarro in Dublin.

Brendan O’Carroll takes readers back to the heart of working-class Dublin, this time in the 1940s. Together with her soon to be lifelong best friend Marion Delany, young Agnes manages to survive the indignities and demands of Catholic school, the unwanted births of siblings, days spent in the factories and markets, and nights in the dance hall as rock-and-roll invades Dublin.

But on the eve of her wedding night, the Jarro is alive with gossip-will Agnes be turned away at the altar? For the whole parish knows Agnes’s not-so-well-kept secret. And with a mother falling further into dementia, and a younger sister turning to a life of crime, it’s up to Agnes alone to keep her splintering family together, while trying to create one of her own.

Filled with O’Carroll’s trademark wicked wit and loving, larger-than-life characters, The Young Wan shows the hardscrabble beginnings of the ultimate Irish mother and family.

What was tough young Dublin widow Agnes Browne doing before she starred in her own trilogy by Irish comedian O’Carroll?
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

“An almost surefire winner . . . one of those books that demands to be read in one sitting.”
– The Irish Voice –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

“An almost surefire winner . . . one of those books that demands to be read in one sitting.”
– The Irish Voice –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The Young Wan










  • 29 responses to "The Young Wan Plume Brendan O’Carroll"

  • Peter Stocker
    1:57 on July 10th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Another great success for Brendan O’Carroll. Couldn’t put it down. Agnes and Marion, we love you. A must read.

  • Laraine Avello
    3:02 on July 10th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I picked up “The Mammy” last summer and could not put it down. When I found out there were going to be three books giving us the wonderful heartfelt tales of Agnes Browne and her boys, I could hardly wait. After finishing “The Chisellers”, I was not disapointed. Brendan O’Carroll sucks you into this working-class Irish family with a tender and loving hand. (It was a bit embarassing laughing AND crying on the subway, but there are weirder people than that on the trains.) It can stand alone, but one book would just not be enough of Agnes Browne and her clan. Now, if I can just hold out until “The Granny” is published…

  • Tosin Ajibowo
    4:41 on July 10th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Although I bought The Mammy trilogy sometime ago, I didn’t read the first book until an online book group selected this title as a group read earlier this year. While reading The Mammy I learned that there was a 4th book, actually a prequel, called The Young Wan. No sooner had I gulped down The Mammy, I rushed to read the next two books, The Chisellers and The Granny. And since I was having such a good time with Agnes, I bought The Young Wan and unfortunately read it all too quickly. I say unfortunately because now I wish I had saved it for that time when nothing but a wonderful book will do. And while I am a stickler about reading books in order or reading a prequel first no matter how the books are published, I am so glad that I read The Young Wan last since it was the best of the four books im my opinion and ended this series beautifully. Now I am so sad to see this book and series end and only hope that Mr. O’Carroll will write more about the Browne family in the future.

    The Young Wan begins on the eve of Agnes’s marriage to Redser Browne. Almost at once the reader realizes that not only is something wrong with Agnes’s mother, Connie, but that Agnes may not be getting married in the Church after all. And in what can only be described as the most revealing and poignant part of the series the author takes us back in time to find out more about Agnes’s parents and grandparents. This portion allows us to see Agnes’s mother, Connie, as the daughter of a wealthy family and a part of her father’s foundry business. We see how she meets the younger man who is to become her husband and how he eventually becomes a labor leader. We also feel for Connie when her father disowns her when she marries against her father’s wishes. We also see Agnes as a young child, as the older sister of Dolly who becomes part of a gang od burglars at a young age, as a student at a parochial school and then a merchant in the Jarro. Parts of the book are laugh out loud funny especially when Agnes and her lifelong friend Marion are together but parts are also very tragic and sad. Agnes grows up all too quickly taking care of her fragile mother and trying to keep her sister in school and not prison. She becomes the right hand of stall owner learnign the trade fast and a lover of rock and roll dancing where she eventually meets her husband. But perhaps the most poignant part is the end when Agnes proves how special she is when she helps out her sister Dolly and than takes a stance backed by her mother and a priest who figures prominently in their family history.

    I must admit that after reading some rather ordinary books, I found The Young Wan was just the right book to lift me out of my book doldrums. I so loved these characters and only wish they were part of my family or friends. In addition, this book left with this burning desire to visit Dublin and walk the streets of the Jarro.

    If you read little else this year, please read The Young Wan and the trilogy and find out for yourselves that magic, music, laughter and tears can all be found in the Jarro and with Agnes Browne.

  • don conrad
    6:47 on July 10th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This special book is side-splittingly funny and also deeply moving. I loved it. It’s good to have Marion and Agnes back together, they’re as funny as can be. Thank you Brendan!

  • sdbss
    7:29 on July 10th, 2013
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    Agnes Browne and her brood of seven continue their roguish adventures in this next installemnt of Brendan O’Carroll’s marvelous trilogy. Though humorous again, this book takes a harsher look at the realities of this family, centering on character studies of the children. The good, the bad, and the tragic. I enjoyed this change very much. Made for page turning reading and deeper insight. A most marvelous read that keeps you smiling sometimes even through tears. The Browne’s are to be cherished forever!!!

  • rahat
    9:49 on July 10th, 2013
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    This is the second part of the Anges Brown trilogy and as a general rule, the second offering is often times not as good as the first. In this case though, that does not hold true. The author follows his delightful characters, their ups, their downs, and skillfully blends relationships into a wonderful story of a family. As with the first book in this servies, I could hardly put it down. The author’s humor and insight to human nature are truely a gift, one which I am glad he is sharing with us. These books have been out long enough now and have been successful enough to attract those few distractors who seem to take delight in casting stones at other peoples sucess. Pay them no heed. This is a delightful read, one you don’t want to miss. Recommend this one highly.

  • smoker_dave
    12:06 on July 10th, 2013
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    Brendan O’Carrol has done it again!!!!!

    This is a great sequel to The Mammy. As the title states it’s about the kids and boy did we need it. I found myself laughing out loud and crying, too. Chisellers has you at the edge of your seat with the family as their life changes in various ways. Years will fly by and before you know it & you’ll be ready for The Granny.

    **** Warning****

    Buy all three at one time. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it order what’s missing because you’ll want to know more about the family. You’ll even want to send Anges money.

  • moooooooooo
    13:21 on July 10th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Picked up The Young Wan wanting a great laugh from start to finish which of course, I got but was so surprised at the attachment I had for the characters this time around. Brendan O’Carroll has a way of drawing you in to the story so deeply you can smell aul’ Dublin throughout this book, I laughed so hard at the confession scene with vivid memories of my kid sister in the same boat and cried at the sense of loss in other scenes which I won’t spoil on you………..read it in one sitting !!! BOC – you are brill……………

  • davesmall
    14:22 on July 10th, 2013
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    I was apprehensive about buying a sencond hand book but could not find this particular book/series anywhere but on Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised with the condition of the book. I would definately purchace another used book from Amazon.

  • Amenemhat
    16:06 on July 10th, 2013
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    The Mammy and The Chisellers were recommended to me by a friend. I started The Mammy and could not put it down till I finished it. I started The Chisellers right away, and was no where near disappointed. These are EXCELLENT books, I didn’t want them to end! I look forward to reading The Granny.

  • Carmen Brodeur
    18:28 on July 10th, 2013
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    After reading The Mammy, I could not wait to read the Chisellers. I was not disappointed in the least, I couldnt put this book down at all! Its already been passed on to my sister, a very addictive read. Brendan O’Carroll makes all the characters come to life so that you feel as if you know each of them personally and that I had been transported to 1960′s Dublin. I cannot wait to get a copy of the Granny!

  • D. Grace
    21:03 on July 10th, 2013
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    After reading the actual novel, and expressing my delight with it, I was given this audio edition. The books is read by Donada Peters who does an absolutely wonderful job, accent and all. The sound quality was quite good. Not having read the Agnes Browne trilogy, this was my first exposure to the author. I, infact, did not realize that it was a prequel to other books, having picked this one up purely by accident. What a lucky find for me? I cannot remember when I have enjoyed a work as much. The author is a natural story teller, quite a fine writer and has the ability to make his characters jump off the page. While parts of this book were indeed sad and somewhat bitter/sweet, others were absolutely hilarious. I do feel the author’s greatest strenth is character developement. You can actually see and feel the characters in your mind’s eye. The book, set in Dublin during the 1940s, captures street life quite wonderfully. The market place, where much of the story takes place truely comes alive. For a pleasureable read I do highly recommend this one.

  • Julia K. Walters
    1:09 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    After having read all three of the Agnes Browne Trilogy; The Mammy,The Chisellers and The Granny,I thoight that would be the end of O’Carroll’s books about life in the Jarro and in the markets of Moore Street.
    Well,let me tell you,O’Carroll hasn’t run out of stories,and for my money this is his best yet
    It is not often that I read a book that makes me laugh out loud,but this one did-and many times.
    As Malachy McCourt,brother of Frank McCourt,says,”You will laugh your arse off and your tears will do away with your water-retention problem.”
    That about says it all!!
    When can we expect a movie? It’s sure to be a winner.

  • welders
    2:55 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    After thoroughly enjoying reading _The Mammy_ I couldn’t wait to read _The Chiseller_. However the first book was much more funny than the second. Although I must say that I was not disappointed by THe Chiseller’s in any way. It just wasn’t quite as good as the first one which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. This book has made me want to find out how it all ends, with The Granny.

  • Sean O
    7:55 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I came upon this book by accident and I enjoyed it so much I am buying the other 3. This precedes the trilogy and I was lucky enough to read this first to get the story as it goes along.
    It was full of humour and down to earth stories of what it really was like in Ireland “back in them days”.
    I lent this book to a friend who was very wary in case it was depressing. She said it was the best book she has read in a long while. She wants to borrow the other books as I buy them!
    Would recommend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable read. Different from the usual Irish stories, this one is unputdownable!!

  • Andrea Carless
    9:37 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    A sequel to a wonderful book is inherently at risk. For when it is to be read by a person familiar with the initial experience, part two is almost predestined to be disappointment. Book one has the advantage of introducing all that is new. The final of the three can tie all the experiences together, can bring closure. But the middle event must maintain the reader’s enthusiasm. When the story and its execution are excellent, the reader is enthusiastic for the final event. The last book is not read just to complete the cycle. Happily there are no absolutes, exceptions ensure that there will be pleasant surprises, not all repeated experience need be as expected.

    With, “The Chisellers”, Mr. Brendan O’Carroll has repeated the brilliance of, “The Mammy”, without resorting to repeating himself as a writer, or forcing his characters to remain unchanged. This writer brings all of the people you love in part one and he allows them to evolve as a person would in their own life. The mood of this book is different, but is also a natural progression. The Browne Clan is getting older; adulthood envelops some, while it still awaits the younger children. Agnes too is aging, adapting to the dramatic changes she was forced to cope with in the first book. However as I mentioned when commenting upon, “The Mammy”, Mr. O’Carroll tells a wonderful story, which happens to take place with an Irish Family. While it is true this brings with it some detail that may be familiar, the fact that this is an Irish Family is never what drives this book. He never allows his work to cheat and use the easy cliché.

    The Author also brings to this wonderful trilogy people that are not Catholic, that are not Irish, and they are not by default the evil players. His story is inclusive; the world he writes about is not a fantasyland where the pains and trials of life are absent. But neither is it a world that when suffering appears, it appears as a certain brand, a certain nationality, a certain group of worn clichés.

    And in this second book there is great pain, there is senseless destruction and loss. And while it would be very easy of accusing the Author of being a bit too neat with finding the lining of silver in one cloud too many, it is no more than most tales of Ireland when every cloud contains a granite mountain.

    This amazing writer is two for two, and now it remains to be seen if he has the final third of the hat trick within him. For this middle installment is as good as number one, so he has nothing to improve upon, as the first two were uniformly tremendous.

  • Barry McDonald
    11:08 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    The Chisellers is the second book in a trilogy by Brendan O’Carroll which began with The Mammy. As I found with the first book, this is a good book which continues the story of Agnes Browne and her seven children.

    When we first meet Agnes Browne she is newly widowed trying hard to take care of her children, the Chisellers of the title, and her stall in the market of the streets of Jarro. In this book, Agnes is older, wiser and still trying hard to keep her children in school or at work. Her oldest son is now working for an elderly man making furniture which presents the reader with a bit of a mystery while her daughter is keeping company with a local policeman. Then there is Agnes’s son who has become a hair dresser and is keeping the secret that he is gay fromthe family. The younger boys are in school where one son isn’t doing well and will be expelled while another one has become a pickpocket in the local stores. As Agnes continues selling her wares in the marketplace, she desparately misses her dear friend Marion while she continues her relationship with Pierre the owner of a pizza store.

    Life couldn’t be more of a challenge for Agnes keeping everything together and calm when she receives word that the Browne clan will be relocated to a different area while renovations to the area of her flat in the Jarro is completed. Naturally, this is quite unsettling to a woman who has never lived anywehre else and she wonders how her children will adjust. What happens when they move and one son is gone from their midst and the days are good and then bleak fills the pages of this book with laughs and tears.

    This was a really good read and a worthy title to follow The Mammy. While reading this book, Agnes and her chislellers become real fleshed out people that any reader feels they know well. As I closed this book I looked forward to reading the last book in the trilogy, The Granny.

  • diodx
    15:41 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    While “Mammy” was a laugh out loud book, the “Chisellers”, while not lacking humor, was a compelling, touching tears-in-the-eyes book. Can hardly wait to read “The Granny”. I hope Mr. O’Carroll continues his writing.

  • Balduzzi
    16:37 on July 11th, 2013
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    This reads like a long short story. The language in parts surprised me at first but then it became just part of the story. In this novel, the reader meets Agnes’ parents…how they met, how they married, how they fell in love. They have two children: Agnes and Dolly. Tragedy strikes and more hardships arise. Agnes has to grow up quicker than her age as she is faced with tough life situations.

    Likeable characters and certainly does make the reader interested in the other books in this series.

  • Johnnie Dayer
    17:09 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This 4th book of O’Carroll’s actually is backstory for his remarkable trilogy that chronicles the life, loves, and family of the inimitable and incredible Agnes Brown. It traces dear Agnes?s own childhood and gives us insight into her mother and grandparents. With its inclusion, avid readers now have the whole picture. Just as full of rollicking hilarity and side-splitting laughter as the others, The Young Wan is also the darkest of the four as it documents the brutality, stupidity and cruelty of certain levels of Irish life.
    A marvelous set of books by a gifted author.

  • Zenobia Yuki
    17:33 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is book two of a trilogy, but it was the first one I read because I came across it 60% off at a Crown Bookstore closing. After reading it, I rushed out to read book one, The Mammy, and then went right to book three, The Granny. I actually think that starting with book two was the best way to read this series, as I enjoyed flashing back in book 1 to the past then moving to book 3 for the future.

    This book is a total wonder. It’s comic scenes and dialogue are hilarious. But, it’s far from a comic novel as there is human drama woven throughout.

    The construction of the novel is perfect: it starts in mystery, becomes a brilliantly funny and touching family chronicle, and ends with resolution to its mystery and to all it’s plot threads. It will touch your funny bone and your heart: in terms of the joys and love within a family unit; a mother who may not seem to set the best example, but when the chips are down, follows her heart and makes the right decisions; of the diversity of personalities within one family; and, the tragedies that surround us and sometimes destroy our dreams.

    One scene had me laughing out loud, then the author describes it again, the second time through other charcaters observing the scene, so you get to enjoy the scene twice.

    This book, along with the other two in the series, reminds us that love is our bond, drama and conflict our shadows, and humor the human soul’s struggle to prevail.

    This is one of the few books that the moment I finished, I started re-reading it — at least until I could buy the other two books in the series.

    I keep a shelf at home with my “Hall of Fame” of favorite books. This book went onto that shelf the moment I turned the last page. And, I can’t wait to start over turning its pages once again.

  • Kelli D Smith
    21:17 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Sequels can not capture the initial feel of an original idea. This book has much of the charm found in “The Mammy”, but lacks in the pantomime-like situation comedy that tickled your insides. We see another side of the family as they blossom into adults. It’s darker, more mundane, but real and just as relevant. If you could relate to “The Mammy”, you will find this a good read.

  • Jake Boxer
    22:31 on July 11th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Not having read the Agnes Browne trilogy, this was my first exposure to the author. I, infact, did not realize that it was a prequel to other books, having picked this one up purely by accident. What a lucky find for me? I cannot remember when I have enjoyed a work as much. The author is a natural story teller, quite a fine writer and has the ability to make his characters jump off the page. While parts of this book were indeed sad and somewhat bitter/sweet, others were absolutely hilarious. I do feel the author’s greatest strenth is character developement. You can actually see and feel the characters in your mind’s eye. The book, set in Dublin during the 1940s, captures street life quite wonderfully. The market place, where much of the story takes place truely comes alive. For a pleasureable read I do highly recommend this one.

  • J Clark
    3:20 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    There is something for everyone in O’Carroll’s writing. If you read and enjoyed “The Mammy” then don’t wait another minute before reading “The Chisellers.”

    O’Carrol writes another splendid narrative of the adventures of Agnes Browne and her children. This book, like The Mammy, will cause you to laugh and will almost bring you to tears at other times.

    The only downside of this book is that it is over too quickly. Thank goodness there is still another one in the series to read.

  • MaD_dOG
    4:50 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    The Browne family saga continues in The Chisellers!…I highly recommend the 3 wonderful little books in this riotous trilogy! (this is number 2)!

    There is so much humor, goodness, sadness, and real “life” tucked between the pages of Brendan O’Carroll’s engaging trilogy of an Irish family and its many laugh-out-loud moments along with its travails.

    A poignant, diverse and lovable (and sometimes not so lovable) tale of a family of very well drawn characters!

  • Guyver
    9:08 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Brendan O’Carroll’s ‘The Young Wan’ is the fourth in the continuing Agnes Browne saga takes a step back into the past. Rightfully being the first tale in the life of Agnes Reddin before she became Mrs. Nichols ‘Redser’ Browne. Before she was ‘The Mammy,’ who had ‘The Chisellers’ and before the made her ‘The Granny’-Agnes was just a young girl, or ‘The Young Wan,’ growing up in the Jarro in Dublin. A place where the working-class live, where women shout gossip across the street and everyone knows everyone else’s business. The story begins in 1940 is the meeting of Agnes and her best friend Marion Delany (later Mrs. Tom Monks). then it switches to 1921 about the meeting and eventual courtship of Agnes’ parents Connie Parker-Willis and Bosco Reddin. Connie a homely head of the accounting office and Bosco a dashing factory worker and union organizer. It wasn’t long after their whirlwind romance and marriage along came Agnes Reddin.

    During the time after Agnes was born Bosco encouraged Connie to reconcile her differences with her father. Her visit to see him was the most sorriest tale that would leave one in tears. As Agnes grew she was “the quiet one” and her first four years of school was barely noticed. Then in her Holy Communion class it changed that’s when she met Marion Delany. A milestone on her life. The disappearance of her mammy was another milestone in Agnes’ life, or perhaps a millstone. After the birth of her sister Dolly, Agnes was no longer the baby, but “a young wan” as Marion put it. Thee were times Agnes and Marion they did everything together. They drew closer. From that hilarious outburst of the first confession, the indignities of Catholic school, the daytrips to “the Market,” working in the factories, unwanted birth of siblings and nights in the dance halls when rock-and-roll by Bill Haley and the Comets from America made the Dublin scene to meet the boys.

    There were the darker times like the tragic death of Agnes’ father, the truth about her mother’s parents involvement of “Misery Hill Massacre” incident and the shame that was brought on the family, her mother’s failing health and sister Dolly is accused of burglary and sentenced time in jail. As Agnes’ life began to change she took comfort in her friends and along with Marion meet her future husband. First, it was Marion swept away by Tommo Monks. Marion introduced Agnes to Redser Browne. The rest is history. Then came the day of Agnes’ wedding, the Jarro was full of gossip who knew of Agnes’ secret. But Agnes now grown-up, keeping her broken family together at the same time creating one of her very own. ‘The Young Wan’ is completely different approach from ‘The Mammy’ trilogy but still retains the wit and unforgettable characters that had the making of the greatest Irish mother and family. This was a roaring good time I definitely recommend.

  • Dan Milner
    10:54 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Contrary to what others think, I found the writing to be decidedly amateurish. I spent years reading and correcting pulp-like fiction written by high school students; this book takes me back to those stacks of stories. The vocabulary is repetitive; some sentences are run-on; the tense is weak (“…the siren was screaming…,” “…the man was spitting at…,” “Bosco was running hard…”); the grammar is sometimes unusual (“…went to follow…,” “…he..made after the other men…”); and occasional slang seems inappropriate (“…a wino…”). There is a too-obvious effort to try to imitate speech patterns. And there are certainly trite and overused descriptions of people: the Irish as the sterotype.

  • Proxy war
    12:15 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    As only Brendan O’Carroll can, this was entertaining, amusing and laddened with life lessons for the kids of today for whom life has been handed to them on a platter. There are moments of dispair, tender love, raging anger, wonderful flirtations, and a show of determination to succeed at every turn. Loved it.

  • Karl Davis
    15:24 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Brendan O’Carroll’s The Chisellers is the next in the Agnes Browne books and continues in the wonderful tradition of the Mammy. This will have you laughing along with the spunky Browne Family, whose deadpan humor navigates them through their poverty. This light hearted if not at times tragic novel will have reader laughing, crying and marveling at the strength of friendship and family.

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