I chose to read this VMC next, because I'd been reading several books set in Ireland recently (see my post on the B-files about Deidre Madden), and the blurb on the back mentioned that the main character was the daughter of a man in the IRA. In fact, the book is set in England, and Ireland is hardly mentioned, but it was as good a reason as any to take it off the shelf.
First of all I must retract what I wrote last week about Nell Dunn's books being my first experience of working-class VMCs since this book describes the life of Louey and Paddy, a mother and daughter who have a struggling existence in 1930s/40s/50s England. Louey is frail, with lung problems, and spends considerable amounts of time in hospital. The story is told through the eyes of Paddy, giving us an incredibly astute child's perspective on their circumstances, and an insight into an amazing mother/daughter relationship. Eventually Paddy's life makes a considerable improvement when she wins a grammar school scholarship and is exposed to all sorts of educational opportunities.
I did some reading around about Maureen Duffy, and found out that this novel is semi-memoir - Duffy had a similarly tough childhood, but then went on to establish a career as a successful write - she writes plays, poetry and biography too, as detailed on this website. Her only other VMC novel is The microcosm (320), and I will be on the look out for a copy of this.
Two covers of this version - I own it in green (slightly fuzzy picture I'm afraid).