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A funny, fierce, and unforgettable read about a young woman working a summer job in a shirt factory in Northern Ireland, while tensions rise both inside and outside the factory walls.

It’s the summer of 1994, and all Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the simmering violence of her divided community. And as a first step, Maeve’s taken a summer job in a local shirt factory working alongside Protestants with her best friends, kind, innocent Caroline Jackson and privileged and clever Aoife O’Neill. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. What seems to be a great opportunity to earn money before starting university turns out to be a crucible in which Maeve is tested in ways she may not be equipped to handle. Seeking justice for herself and her fellow workers may just be Maeve’s one-way ticket out of town.

Bitingly hilarious, perceptive, and steeped in the vernacular of its time and place, Factory Girls is perfect for fans of voice-driven stories with bite, humor, and realism, such as the Netflix series Derry Girls and novels by Douglas Stuart, Roddy Doyle, and Anna Burns.


Don't just take our word for it...

“Factory Girls is full of the stuff that we’re starting to expect of Michelle Gallen; wild, hilariously angry characters, and language that is vital, bang-on, and seriously funny.”
— Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and Love

“Michelle Gallen’s Factory Girls pulses with dark, irreverent humor. Set in a place where dreams are laughable at best, dangerous at worst, it’s a big F you to the only world these characters know. And yet, there’s vulnerability here. Hope, too. I loved it.”
— Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes

“Gallen fluidly juxtaposes the pedestrian worries of small-town life against the Troubles of the mid-1990s… For fans of Derry Girls and the plucky heroines of Marian Keyes.”
— Booklist, starred review


Taste the very first page

Thursday, 2 June 1994
74 days until results

Maeve Murray was just eighteen years old when she first met Andy Strawbridge but she knew he was a fucker the minute she laid eyes on him. In fairness, she’d expected it. He was an English- man who drove into the town for work. Nobody knew him, but everyone knew of him. She’d heard the stories about him taking his pick of the factory girls, offering them lifts home where he’d park his Jag up some lonely lane so he could get a blowjob from whoever was belted into the front passenger seat. She’d tried to listen to the stories with only one ear, for she knew the people spouting that shite about Andy would’ve said the same of Father Goan, who wasn’t fit to find his mickey for a pish.

But when Maeve stood face to face with Andy Strawbridge in his office in the factory, she knew every last word she’d heard about him was true – and was probably only half the story. She’d come prepared, slouching in like she already worked there, with her hair scraped into a ponytail and not a lick of make-up on her face. She’d dressed in baggy grey joggers and one of the fleeces her mam bought by the dozen in the Primark sales. She looked like a lump of dropped dough in that get-up.

But Andy still looked at her like he’d fuck her. Like he’d already fucked her.

Maeve stuck her hand out at him. ‘Hi, Mr Strawbridge. I’m Maeve Murray.’…