Somewhat belatedly, I have just read in quick succession “Angela’s Ashes” and then “Paddy Clarke Ha Ha,” by Frank McCourt and Roddy Doyle respectively. Both are tales of childhood in Ireland, albeit a generation apart. What struck me the most though was the raw deal the wives and their children got in both books. Physically and verbally abused, it was women in such situations that the “new” divorce legislation in this country was meant to assist. Except even if the writers’ mothers had been able to divorce, it’s hard to see how it would have made the slightest difference to the authors, their siblings or their parents. You can’t legislate to make an absent father see his children, stop drinking or behave like a proper role model. Also is there any gain in seeking divorce if society castigates the families still further, women remain second class citizens or there is no adequate structure to provide for them financially? Fortunately the social situation here and in Ireland too is not as it was sixty and forty years ago. Sometimes one has to read books like this to realise how far we have advanced in such a relatively short space of time and also how much still needs to alter.