A collection of fifteen stories, Jean McGarry’s No Harm Done, depicts family life at its worst, best, and funniest, as if the author had conjoined the lunacy of Cold Comfort Farm with the bitter grievances of Dubliners. As the author writes in “Strong Boy,” this might be “…because every family, rich or poor, is roughage.”
The characters, gallant, goofy, gifted, and grim, include sickly mothers of a dozen children, boozy fathers with a gift of the gab, kids aspiring to be nuns and priests, or just to get out of town with a whole skin.
A section is devoted to one marriage made in heaven: a Jewish psychoanalyst devoted to his ex-nun wife. Another set of stories reworks familiar fairy tales, setting them in the wild present. No Harm Done (whose title is Irish code for wishful thinking) concludes with a truce to the war between the sexes, and indeed a ‘solution’ to the tragicomedy that is marriage and family.
"McGarry's prose is fresh, her plots unpredictable, and her dialogue shimmeringly wry... Reading McGarry's stories is to be surprised and delighted." ~Kirkus Reviews
"A gifted observer, records with fidelity the daily minutiae of life and introspection." ~Publishers Weekly
"McGarry's thickly layered prose, with its stunning emotional accuracies, is always just on the verge of exploding into dream or fantasy." ~Women's Review of Books
"Ms. McGarry's stories have the feel of paintings by Edward Hopper. Her characters are solitudinous and lonely, rarely funny, but they often carry with them, even in their defeat, a certain dignity. She is a writer who honors the human condition." ~Baltimore Sun
“Short stories dominated by postwar Irish-American families and marked by an entertainingly strange sensibility…McGarry at her best pushes the envelope just past realism in a way that can be comic, creepy, and poignant…”
- Kirkus Review