Ma, He Sold Me For a Few Cigarettes becomes UK bestseller

29 May

We are thrilled to announce the Mass Market paperback of Ma, He sold Me For a Few Cigarettes has gone straight into The Sunday Times bestseller list a week after publication. Great news for Martha!


36 Responses to “Ma, He Sold Me For a Few Cigarettes becomes UK bestseller”

  1. hazel May 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm #

    brilliant and sad and happy, i shouted at the book, stay there, leave now, so impelling hard to beleive it is real.i could taste the food so badly pined for and the pain and releif, why didnt you stay in london, but then at that agem you go with mum, if only so many times. and at the end was longing to know how you are doing now, are you a nurse, married, mother and what happened to charlie, they will all need theropy, so proud of you and so sorry for this world we live in and how awful people can be. x

  2. CINDY HARVEY June 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    Unlucky enough to be laid up with the shingles, my friend gave me your book ‘Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes’. I read the book in four days (needless to say I soon forgot about my own misfortunes). Its hard to believe that poor children were subjected to this way of life and you brought out the suffering to my very soul. At the end when you were taken away I was left wondering and worrying what became of everyone but I am glad to learn that there is a sequal to put my mind at rest and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! You truly are a child/woman of courage and an inspiration to others. My husband was brought up in southern Ireland with his 13 siblings in the 60’s and was able to relate also to some of the script.
    Well done, I’m sure your family are very proud of you.

  3. Maria June 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    You truly are an inspiration. How you have come through the heartbreak, turmoil and sheer filth that was inflicted on you is beyond me. To become an accomplished author with a best selling book and successfully rear three children (in what I would imagine to be a very well-grounded, loving home) is proof that you are a courageous and extremely talented (self-taught) lady.

    As printed on the book, your remarkable voice has indeed remained with me long after I finished the book. I feel compelled to know what happened to you after the age of twelve. I’m longing to hear of some happiness for you. I therefore gratefully await your next two books.
    Lots of love
    Maria xx

  4. Shirley June 26, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    Well Martha, your one incredibly strong and amazing person. My Mum read the book and cried, I didn’t understand why, until she gave it to me…..I read it in two days, I even had to take a sickie from work because I just could not put the book down. Everytime I put it down to go and do something I worried, I worried for you and Charlie. You are such an inspiration Martha and you deserve so much. It has made me see my life in a different manner, I will never take anything for granted and have a deeper appreciation for what I have. Your courage and strength is incredible. I will be passing it on to my daughter to read. I can’t wait to read the next book and hope it will be on sale here in New Zealand soon. The best book I have ever read by far, I could feel the emotion, smell the different scents and felt like a fly on the wall. May God watch over you and surround you with millions of loving Angels for the rest of your days. Take care xxx

  5. Polly July 1, 2008 at 4:26 am #

    I was so moved by this book, I still can’t believe the emotions that it raised in me. I too could not put it down, especially towards the end as i couldn’t sleep until i new what had happened to Charlie while you and your ma were in England and then when you went back home and saw Charlie again and he told you what had happened to him, well it just broke my heart and the tears flowed freely. Even the next morning i cried when i was telling my daughter about the book. And the anguish i felt for poor Charlie when you had to leave was unbearable. I know he would have had to take up where you left off and God only knows what Jackser did to him. You wrote it in such a way that we felt everything you went through and you created such a vivid picture i felt like i was there with you. I sincerely hope you are doing ok now and I can’t wait for the new book. Good luck.

  6. anne July 5, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    fab book very emotional it brought back memories i was brought up in dublin finglas in the 1950 s went to st brigids school finglas west lived on ratoath ave what street in finglas did you live on cant wait for next book love anne x

  7. Carol Anne July 24, 2008 at 5:35 pm #

    Brilliant book Martha but please, don’t leave us hanging on! What happened when you went into the convent? What happened to your siblings, especially poor Charlie?
    You have left the door open for a sequel, don’t keep us waiting too long.

    Hoping the latter half of your life gave you love and happiness.

    Much Love,
    Carol Anne.

  8. Bel July 30, 2008 at 8:25 am #

    Martha this is simply the best book i have read. I laughed and cried with you. I challenge anyone to read this book and not be moved by it. Cannot wait for the sequel Ma i’am getting meself a new mammy, due out September to find out what happened to you and Charlie.

  9. Donna Hastie August 13, 2008 at 9:05 am #

    Dear Martha what a fantastic book and your story is one that had myself and my mum both laughing and crying. I read it in 3 days and I’m glad there is a sequel. I am so desperate to find out how you kept on going in the convent and to see how poor poor charlie is he has a place in my heart.
    Glad you stuck to your guns and never gave up you are a true insperation.

  10. Fiona Doyle September 7, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Dear Martha

    Your book is the most disturing I have ever read. I think it must be the worst account of child abuse ever put down on paper! I hope your mother is still alive to read it as I can’t understand how any mother could turn such a blind eye to her childrens suffering? There were parts of the book I could hardly bare to read and I was so hoping you would stay with the lovely Flo in England and she would look after you. I knew there must be a sequel after reading the end of Ma he sold me for a few cigarettes. I hope you weren’t sent to a horrible place because I don’t know how you could handle anymore abuse! If the Judge sent you to one of those terrible industrial schools he deserved to be shot!! I hope you got a good education and came back to at least take Charlie with you and that you reported Jackester to the authorities? I also hope he is alive to read your book although I’m sure the disgusting pig can’t read!! I hope you became a nurse, met a lovely kind man and had kids of your own to look after. I think anyone who reads your book will fall in love with you and would have loved to have looked after a precious little girl like you.

    I will look on amazon for your second book now and I can’t wait for your 3rd book to find out how you got on in the school you were sent to.

    You are an amazing person Martha. I hope your life is very happy now.

    Fiona Doyle, Gorey Co. Wexford & Geneva, Switzerland

  11. Fiona Doyle September 9, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Hi there

    I’m just wondering where the comment I made on this page has gone to? I posted it on Saturday 6 September.

    Thanks a lot.


  12. Gaylene Morrow September 9, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    Dear Martha, That is the best book I have read. I so wanted to hold you and just give you the cuddle you longed for. I drive a bus and couldn’t keep my eyes from the book. I have told all my passengers about you, and now everyone wants to borrow my book, but I have told them to buy their own. You are truely an inspiration, and I often wondered how you kept going. I cried and laughed, but most of all my heart went out to you. I would so love to meet you, and if you ever come to Australia you are welcome to stay in my home, I would do everything for you. While reading the book you really became a part of my life, I just couldn’t leave you alone incase you got lonely or lost. Where is poor little Charlie, and your other brothers and sisters. I can’t wait for the next book and will be going out tomorrow to find it. You really now deserve the best life can give, you are very brave and intelligent, a must read for everyone. Good luck Martha. XXXX

  13. Tracey Annis October 6, 2008 at 9:22 pm #

    Dear Martha
    I read your book within 2 days while lying on a beach in Cyprus, and felt guilty, i could not belive that your life as a child, or anyone elses could be so horrid. People who have been bought up ‘well’ like myself cant imagine what it must have been like for you and your brothers and sisters. I would love to know how you got on in the convent,and how you are now, and how the rest of your family survived without you! especially little Charlie. I cant believe your mother could have done what she did, i had a child in 1975 at the age of 16 and i could never have treated or let anyone else treat my child, the way you were. I hope you are living a good life now, the way you deserve xx

  14. Angela November 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Martha..
    I just want to say that I think you are a fabulous person. I think it’s great that you are so strong. I grew up in Dublin myself.

    That Jackser fella has a lot to answer for and even now it makes me think how many other kids have a ” jackser” living in their household…( sickening and scary )

    Well done for getting through it all!!!

  15. jacqueline January 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    Hello Martha

    I am writing to you from Austalia, i was born in England 1951

    I have just finished your first book and i feel like i have been taken to another place.

    I have read many books fiction and non fiction and this is the first time a book has brought me to tears.

    I really wished that i could jump into the pages and give you a big cuddle.

    I wish you all the best and i plan to read your next book thankyou for sharing you past with me.

    I believe that your book should be read by students i feel that alot could be learnt from your book

    Kind Regards

  16. Cheryle January 12, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    Hi have just read Ma He Sold Me Fro A Few Cigaretts.

    I cried I felt your tears I felt your pain, how cruel some parents are I could relate to a lot in book which hit me hard… Wish I just give you a huge hug. I wonder about Charlie? is he ok?
    Kind Regards Cheryle

  17. vanessa January 15, 2009 at 1:17 am #

    Hi Martha,

    Im from ireland and i live in leixlip co.kildare im 15 years old and your book is the first book i have ever read! and i adored it so much!

    I just finished reading yoour 1st book, and wow, martha you are full of courage and strenth and i honestly have no idea how you went through it all. I would sit up all night reading through your book and it just brought me to tears! your amazing martha and a true inspiration to me. everything you wrote in that book, the description, the voices everything just mad me feel like i was there and everytime i read a page i jus wanted to run over to you and give you a big huge hug! your absoloutly amazing and i hope some day i could meet you. your just so amzing words canteven describe you martha and i look up to you because you are great and full of courage.

    I never ever stop thinkin about your book and i cannot wait to get the 2nd one! I would love to know what happened to the rest of the children and how you are getting on with your life at the moment and your three children aswell.

    maybe in the third one there can be pictures? if you haver any because im dien to know what you look like. your like a hero to me and i admire you so much.

    take care


  18. Tricia January 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    I too have just finished your book. I cried,screamed and felt I was with you the whole journey. You are truly the strongest woman I know. You have left a imprint on me that I believe will last forever. I have given the book to my teenage daughter hoping it will prepare her for the world she is about to enter.

    Peace to you

    Tricia. Australia

  19. joe January 25, 2009 at 9:41 pm #


    my mum and myself read this book amazingly powerful book

    but it raised a couple of questions
    1. was your mother not quite right in the head ie) mentally backard from the off, how else could she treat her own offspring the way she did

    2. was jackser a bit simple in the head, he comes across as some sort of backward violent sadistic hard drinking headcase,not to mention selling the keys of his mum house so that when she died and his family came over from england they had no place to stay

    It is hard to imagine any sane normal people doing or being a party to such suffering at any time never mind on such a repeated basis.Especially someones own mother , the way you described her sitting looking vacantly into the fire twirling her hair possibly suggests she is not quite right or had some sort of breakdown

    Was everything in the book factual as it is a miracle you are still alive after repeated beatings and sitting for hours on outside freezing, starving and soaken wet

    also we were desperate to find out

    1 what happened to your mum
    2.what happened to jackser
    are they both still alive if so did your mum ever apologise for what happened
    3. what ages are your siblings now and what are they doing now

    my father grew up in Dublin in the 30’s there was 12 of them in a 2 bedroom house so I knew things were hard and that amount of people living in a house like that was not uncommon and poverty was rife but your story is something else

    The book was gripping but i was expecting an epilogue to fill us in with these details

    but without doubt one of the best books i have ever read and as i said it is amazing you are alive let alone fuctioning to any normal capacity writing best selling novels


  20. marion January 27, 2009 at 10:32 am #


  21. Kate Ashby January 28, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    My dearest Martha having just read your book I had to tell you it has left me with a feeling of utter sadness for the child Martha how brave you were I can’t wait to read your next book. I have read books of a similar vein to yours but usually about the industrial schools never one of such personal suffering at the hands of your own family. I can only hope that inwriting this it has brought you some small measure of comfort. I wish you all the very best and much hapiness in the future nobody deserves it more than you do.

    Kind regards


  22. Anne FitzGerald May 10, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    Dear Martha,

    Just finished both your books, oh my God how did you survive. I too was born in the early 50’s but my lift was so different to yours. You were so brave. I cant wait for your third book, I need to know what happened to Charle, your siblings and your Mom. As for Jackser what goes round comes round.
    Congratulations to you for being such a wonderful person and I hope you found love eventually.


  23. trish tod July 4, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    have just read this amazing book i couldnt put it down i would like to know the name of the squel please? i couldnt beleive what a cow your mum was how could a mother let her own child go through all that, you showed what a strong character you were

  24. Pat Grindey July 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Martha, my heart was beating faster at the trauma you went through yet couldnt put the book down i was shaking just reading your experience, how did you find the strength to keep going. why oh why did you have to go back to this awful man. What in gods name make people so vile and a mother so blind. i will have to read the next book hoping to get some answers.
    God bless and keep you safe.x

  25. Aubrey August 26, 2009 at 1:32 pm #

    What a brilliantly written book, utterly absorbing and gripping. The portrayal of the child-talk with Irish expressions was superb
    But what a dreadfully corny title! “Martha” would have been adequate, and would have given the book the dignity it deserves!

  26. Cristina November 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Dear Martha, (like the name as it’s my mum’ name), just want to let you know that I thought your book was extremely moving. I could not believe a mother could close her eyes to such inhumanity, to let Jackser treat you so,and she was not much better although her treatment was worse as she was supposed to protect you and love you and care for you – and you still loved her!

    I truly hope that your life after this awful period picked up – can’t wait to read your next book to see how you got on after leaving the courts. How is Charlie, how did he get on without you again, and the other childre what happened to them. I am currently looking for your following book.

    Take care and very best wishes for a happy life, you certainly deserve it.


  27. Sylvia November 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm #


    I read your book in a week which is an absolute record for me! I’m trying to get your second book from our local library and I’m looking forward to reading it. Your style of writing literally transported me into your life to where I felt I was living and feeling everything you were going through.

    I had a difficult upbringing myself and some aspects of your book I was really able to relate to. My mother was in an industrial school and a magdalen laundry and my dad actually lived on Sherriff st growing up in the tenements (he would be 60 now so I’m not sure if he would have lived there when you were there).

    Your words have given me alot of strength as I feel that if you, Martha, as a child could go through what you did and come out the other side to be come a successful writer, that I can do anything I set my mind to…

    Well done, you really have alot to be proud of!


  28. Kathleen Ni Ghiolla bhain December 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    Hi Martha, loved the books can’t wait to read the forth one. The first one I was waiting on a happy ending and was disappointed on the ending I got. However, having a husband who is a published author, we realised what the publishers ploy was – to get us to buy the next book and it worked. I would love to be your friend, maybe talk to you on facebook or send emails to you. I am not a culchie, however I do live in Donegal. I was born in Scotland to similar parents to the ones you were around. So I can empathise with some aspects of your life. Like you I have got over it and am now doing a post grad diploma in computing and am ready to get back on my feet and earn a living. I have also got three beautiful children whom I love and cherish and I have been their full time carer for the last 13 years since coming to Ireland. By the by, my parents are Irish. Love to hear from you. Kathleen

  29. Julie Fletcher January 4, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    Dear Martha, I now have eye-strain after reading your book ! I cannot believe the horrible abuse that you and your brothers and sisters went through ! I am sure that things turned our more than wonderful for you as you are now a published author ! I wish you and your siblings all the peace love and happiness that you so well deserve ! Julie, Australia.

  30. Anna Luan February 4, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    OMG Martha !!!!!!!!!!! Im a mother of 4 beautiful children, my book before” ma, he sold me for a few ciggarettes” took me 1 year to read..i went on a lifetime cruise..found it boring so i got stuck in your book and read in in 2 weeks..Martha I cried and cried and cried ..i found myself putting the book down whenever i couldn’t possibly imajion it happening to my children..I kept comparing you and my children together and just wanted to hugg you through the page so much and yank your mother alive and tell her to ” wake up” and see what you were going through, let alone your brother sweet charlie and Dinah and Sarah… I creid when you went back to find Charlie at home ..i wanted to hugg him so so much ..oh look i just cried my heart out throughout!!!! but you made me laugh at your humour ” bluehair lady” and “hairylegs” and you made me proud of your strength and courage…Your a true survivor and a true women no doubt..and silly as this sounds , also hope whoever has had the similar experiance comes out ontop as you seemed to have. yes you lost your childhood way before your time but you have a lifetime to enjoy and maybe find it in your childrens childrens children.. im on ta ya next book thats for sure –
    Jaysus women !! ya even got me talkin a wee funny… my son was having a bad day and i found myself asking him ” what ales ya child”
    Godbless ya Martha and ive lit a candle fer ya – i ave =}
    Western Australia

  31. Tracey de Gregorio March 9, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    I have just finished reading this book. I laughed and cried at every chapter. Having come from a violent and abusive background, I often feel that I would never get over it and I am 65. Your courage and determination and the horrors of your ordeals have left me feeling courageous, and mine were miniscule in comparison. I would have loved to have taken that little girl and left her safe. You are doing that now Martha. She is safe with you, and with us, your readers.
    You are in my thoughts

  32. Craig April 29, 2010 at 2:39 am #

    I have been thinking of buying this book for my wife for Mothers day this year. Looking at these reviews, I think that this is now a must!
    Tracey – (last comment I read before deciding to leave something here) It was your comment of real understanding from your life perspective that clinched it. I love the thought that this book has reached out to people from a variety of life’s journeys and for some helped to bring them toward healing and real understanding of where the little child of our past might now find security, love and acceptance.

  33. liz July 1, 2010 at 6:39 pm #


  34. Brookey :) August 4, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    Excellent Book. I’m Only 14 And Hate Reading Books But This,,
    Blown Away. It’s Amazingly Touching. I Spilled A Few Tears Whilst Reading It. (:
    I Recomended It Too My Friend, And Then Her Mum.
    My Mum Has Just Started Reading It. Goodluck With The Future..

  35. Brookey :) August 4, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    Feel Free Too Add Me On Facebook Yeah?

  36. ber September 9, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    Just want to say you are the best

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