Reviews for Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes

‘Stands head and shoulders above everything else in the category . . . a remarkable personal and literary achievement for the author and an unforgettable experience for the reader’
Irish Independent

‘Without question the most harrowing tale I have ever read.  Even Charles Dickens, whom we appreciate for being the voice of so many abused children, is left in the dust.’
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

Reviews for Ma, I Got Meself Locked Up in the Madhouse

‘Blunt, moving and laugh-out-loud funny’
Irish World

Praise for Martha Long

‘Long’s books are a genuine literary achievement, head and shoulders above anything else in the genre, a social document with a compelling human face written by a truly gifted storyteller’
The Bookseller, June 2013


45 Responses to “Reviews”

  1. jayne May 13, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    what a brill book cant wait to read Ma, I’m in the Madhouse….fantastic couldnt put the first book down.

  2. Roger May 13, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    I love the book, being Irish, it is a joy to read in my own accent as I would speak !

    Can’t wait till the next book is out !

    Good on ya Martha !

  3. Jeanne May 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    Wow. Brilliant book by a truely remarkable woman. How difficult this must have been to write; and another also which I am looking forward to reading.
    Congratulations on your achievements. You deserve the best.

  4. Jacqui Keay July 9, 2008 at 12:11 am #

    And to think I have moaned about raising 4 children on my own down here
    in God’s green country New Zealand.
    How lucky I have been and many other people like myself should be so grateful for what we do actually have.
    The priorities of a home,love,food and safety.
    What more could anyone wish for?

  5. Joyce Nolan July 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm #

    My heart broke the whole way through this book. I wanted to hug Martha and bring her home and buy her that doll and dress her up like the other girls in her school. I was amazed at how much anger this book stirred in me towards Martha’s mother and Jackser.

    For all you have suffered Martha I thank you for making me appreciate my life even more. I cannot wait for the next book and will be waiting outside my local book store the day of its release.

  6. elslaphead July 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm #

    thurs 24th july 9.34pm fan blummin tastic!! i could not put this book down,i loved the way Martha told her story,she made me laugh out loud and cry at the same time,Martha if your reading this you are a true inspiration to all! I look forward to your sequel,lots of love Sarahx

  7. Angelina 25 Dublin August 12, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    Fantastic!!! loved it, loved it, loved it!!!!!

    Horrific, but Martha is still here to fight another day her’s is a truly remarkable story.

  8. Irene Martin August 24, 2008 at 7:19 pm #

    A fantastic read…couldn’t put this book down. had such a terrifying childhood with Jackser and a Mother who done nothing to protect you from the ongoing abuse. Being a child in Ireland during the 50s was hard especially if your parents were poor, and abuse was not uncommon in large families. I was a child in Cork in the 50s and was surrounded by larger poor families. Often the fathers’ spent the little money they had in the pub, leaving no money for food. I was one of the lucky ones having being brought up by my grandmother, and although money was tight I had a happy childhood. Ireland in the 50s was very tough, and of course they always had numerous children, 11 and 12 children to a family!!

    You were a strong little girl Martha to survive those vicious beatings…I only hope that Jackser got his just desserts in the end. I look forward to your continuing story, Martha.

  9. Majella Murray August 26, 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    fantastic book,
    martha i hope with all my heart that you are warm happy and safe and that you never know a days fear or hardship in your life ever again.
    i have no doubt that you went on to become a lady that people looked up to and admired just like you always said you would xxxxxxxxx

  10. gail kearsley September 1, 2008 at 9:43 pm #

    this woman has amazing srenghth and courage.i was totally captivated by this book and read it in two days,i was so upset by the tragic life Martha lead and was dying to know what happened when she left care…now i can find out with her next book.thank you Martha for sharing with us your story although it must have been extremely difficult for you.

  11. Alicia Kelly September 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    Just finished reading this book and hardly put it down since I started. I laughed and cried whilst reading this book. I really hope she writes the next chapter in her life as I for one would love to find out what happened next and whether she did manage to build a relationship with her siblings after she went away.

    Martha Long you are an inspiration to us all.

  12. Gina September 14, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    Martha you are a amazing person, your strenght & courage to survive the life you had, i read your book in two days, i couldnt put it down, there where times when i taught i couldnt keep reading but i had to know how it ended, just yesturday i walked into a shop and seen your 2nd book, im now halfway through it, it also made me appreciate growing up in the eighties, ive never been as moved by a story as i have been by yours, i hope life is great for you now….and that little girls heart has somehow mended….xxx

  13. Trini October 3, 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    I read this book and was so moved i often re-traced the steps of the streets she ran and walked, checked out the covents and churches on griffth ave, what a life lived for her 1st 10 years, I actually re read the book a couple of months later and it was just as moving, as you get into her mind and appreaciate Martha’s street smarts,her thinking 10 steps ahead all the time, i felt i was with her all the way. it just stayed with me. So well written. I have since passed the book around, as you do, I think it should be in schools (high schools) as a compulsary read. I have just learnt of the 2nd book, i’ll get it tomorrow, but how many children did this happen too? they all need to speak out and move on as much as you can do.
    where was the help, and where is it now, where were the churches with their almighty steeples.??

  14. christine October 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    I can’t stop thinking about Charlie.
    My heart is breaking.

    • Beverley Mullen July 31, 2012 at 4:57 am #

      Same with me. I always felt so terribly sorry for that poor little boy and wonder how he is too.

  15. AMY WATTON October 5, 2008 at 6:08 pm #

    i love both of the books and cant wait for the third. i just cant get brave martha out of my head my thoughts are always with her an the hope for the other children lives on i only hope everything works out ok for all of the children of the family and that jackser really has died roarin for what he done and continued to do being a mother my self i couldnt imagine letting any one hurt my little girl my heart is with you always martha. i respect your privacy but i feel i need to put face to your name and beg that you put a picture of yourself even if its an old one in the third book all my love and best wishes x

  16. Sharon October 9, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    I have just ready the 2nd book, in one day, I just couldn’t put it down. I read the first a couple of months ago and was so moved that I asked my husband to read it, it moved him so much too. He is now reading the 2nd book. Martha you really are a fighter and whilst it must have been really hard to put your life into print, I’m so glad you did. It really makes you feel humble and more appreciative of the life that I have lived so far.

    Martha you truly are an inspiration, and looking forward to your 3rd book.

    Best wishes

  17. sharon brennan November 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    martha long i felt when i closed your first book ma he sold me for few cigerets my heart was breaking for a child i felt i loved so much and would do anything to jump back in time and make it ok your second book i found it funny heartbreaking and where are you and your fam

    ily now and if that bastard jakser got what he deserved

    love sharon brennan

  18. mel November 17, 2008 at 10:19 am #

    I cannot wait for “ma, I’m locked up in the madhouse”

    The 1st two books were amazing. I couldn’t put them down.
    Martha is truely an inspiration to everyone. I’ve recommended the two books to anyone and everyone.
    I found myslef complaining and moaning about stuff that had gone on in my own life, it takes a story like Marthas to make you truely appreciate what you have….

    As I’ve said, I eagerly await the third installment, and hope we get some info on what happened poor auld Charlie.


  19. AMY WATTON December 6, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    When is the third book comming out i loved the 1st two (note earlier comment) but have heard nothing more about the third i dont know if its too early but it seems i have had ma im gettin me self a new mammy for such a long time i cant wait to read the third book i need to know how life turned out for brave little Martha Long i have read both book twice now. my husband read the first few pages of ma he sold me for a few cigarets but could not read on. it angered him that someone would treat a poor defenceless child like that. i hope you are well and happy Marth x lots of love Amy x x x

  20. michelle January 1, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    I finished Ma, He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes, and I finished it just at the right time, New Years Eve, so as you may imagine my outlook on life is alot different now, I have been a Nanny for 14 year’s now and reading that book shocked me to the core that Men can be like that back then as well as now, no idea why it schocked me because my Grandad sexually abused me when I was very young. Anyway I cannot wait to read your next book, and I hope that something happens to Jackster, I hope that you are happy

  21. Kitty March 11, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    I received the first book from a friend (she brought it back to Chicago with her from a visit home to Clonakilty) and just loved it. I’ve since ordered the second book and am dying to read that and the third. I’m so proud of you, Martha, but so sorry you had to take the abuse and neglect you were dealt. I wanted to pull you out of the book and take care of you (and Charlie). And being a Chicago girl, I have some ideas for how Jackser can be repaid. XO

  22. JOANNE MORAN March 27, 2009 at 12:17 am #

    i have just read your 1st two books, couldnt put them down. when can we expect the 3rd book(ma i’m in the madhouse now}.I hope Jsckser got what he deserves. How is poor Charlie and the rest of your siblings?

  23. Marjanna Jones May 9, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    I have just finished the 2nd book and loved it but I am a bit confused.
    Is Ma, I’m Locked in the Madhouse really Ma, I’m Getting Meself a New Mammy ?
    And what about Ma, it’s a Cauld Aul Night an I’m Lookin for a Bed , where does it fit in ?

  24. leigh May 27, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    What an amazing story. I wanted to cry for martha all the way through. When she left for England i had to miss many pages out to make sure she got back to charlie and the other children!! The end of the book was terrible because i really needed to know what was going to happen to martha and the children that were left behind. I hope so much to read the next part of this amazing story. I could not put this book down. What a fantastic story of courage and bravery for a young girl.

  25. Shona July 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm #


    I am itching to get my hands on your 3rd book. I have just under 2 months to wait. I read the 2nd in just over a day. So its been nearly a year waiting on the 3rd so im sure the last few weeks wont kill me, lol!

    Im re-reading the 1st 2 books (again, lol) so that I can pick up where I left of!

    Im feeling sad though, will this be your last book? Does this mean that after I read this thats it?? In a way I want to savour it, read a chapter, let the story settle in my head then begin the next, but the other part of me wants to practically start the 1st chapter standing in the shop queue when I go into buy it! Comparison to like when you got the nice bread with the good butter, you didnt know what to do!

    Martha, I wish you every happiness and god bless.

    P.S 3rd September cannot come quick enough……..seriously!!

  26. lesley August 25, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    This has got to be the best book I have every read, I wanted to take her home & give her everthing she has not had .Martha is truely an inspiration to everyone. what a fantastic child cannot wait for the next book

  27. Eileen September 4, 2009 at 11:54 am #


    I read your two books over the summer and I must say they we amazing. I normally don’t read books but I couldn’t put these books down once I started reading them. I am soo looking forward to getting my hands on your 3rd book. Thank you very much for giving me the inspiration to read.


  28. Cheryl September 19, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    I read your first & second books “Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes” & “Ma,I’m gettn meself a new Mummy”.
    Martha you are truly an amazing person to have survived the horrible things that happened to you. I passed the books onto my eldest daughter, who passes then onto her sister when she is finished. I raised 3 children on my own, and when things were bad I would always remind myself and my children, that there was always someone out there worst off than we were. Now that they are adults with children of there own, and having read you books they realize that is true.
    I am now reading your third book and I am awaiting to find out what happens to charlie.
    You are an inspiration to us all.

    Cheryl (AUST)

  29. Julie October 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    I’ve just finished your first book and haven’t stopped crying for a week. I was sad that there was no happy ending and had to find out if there was more, thank goodness there is. I’ve never been star struck or wanted to meet a celebrity but I wish I could meet you just to give you a cuddle. I hope life is being kind to you now Martha.

    Best Wishes

    Julie (still crying!)

  30. Samantha November 19, 2009 at 4:02 am #

    I am only 12 years of age and after my mum read ‘Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes’ I read it. Every time at school when we were ment to be doing a test I was reading as much as I could. But sometimes I had to put the book down because it was so depressing. I think that it is hard to imagine what my life would be like if I had to grow up with such horrid parents and going without much food. I cant wait till I get to read the next book because it’s so interesting
    Bye (got to finish my homework rather than read)

  31. Samantha November 19, 2009 at 4:05 am #

    Hey again,
    I have two questions, which are:
    Are you still in touch with your siblings.
    And in the end did you deside to meet your siblings (if you hadnt already)?
    Sorry just had to ask!

  32. caroline January 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    truly a remarkable woman made me appriate the things i have in life god bless you and i realy hope that things worked out for you all my love caroline xxx

  33. martina smith February 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    can anyone tell me who and how i could get in contact with publisher or martha long.
    I have had much of a dramatic life and i have always wanted to put it in a book but i never knew where to start
    i could think of nothing more than for martha long to be the one to do it i cried for each book from cover to cover and never put it down
    I never read a book in my life and i was drawen to ma he sold me for cigaretts sitting on a book shelf in my neighbours house and i have bought it and all the follow up books just to have for my self. they were all fantastic.

    i would love to have my life in a book and i have always being told that i should right a book about my life

    please help me get started


  34. Maj August 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I have read 3 off martha’s books now and passed them round my friends “remarkable person” to have come threw so much and remained so witty! Can’t wait to get my hands on the 4th book now!!!!!!!! Would really love to go to a book signing and meet the woman in person so if anybody knows of 1 please let us know!

  35. Kim October 7, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    I have just finished reading the last book…i have not been able to put all the books down once I start reading. Very inspirational is Martha. I have laughed out loud and she is most certainly a survivor. Brilliant Martha, brilliant

  36. Anne-Marie January 5, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Martha – what can I say.. Ive just finished the last of your books which took me on a journey of your cruel, tortuous and sometimes happy life. You are a born survivor and would like to congratulate you for your strength in having to endure all that suffering. I loved the books, the Dublin dialect (I lived there in the 60s and early 70s) and your story which made me laugh and cry. Martha – I do hope there is a follow up book because no other books compare to yours. Anne-Marie (Cyprus)

  37. jennifer April 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    i loved your books but while reading them i never cried so much because i never know someones live could what yours was like. i felt so sorry for you and your siblings. while reading i felt i could love to help but couldn’t. and fair play to you for writing these books and letting people know what life was back then and these books could help other people now to speak up loudly if they went through what you did…

  38. Indira Ratnam June 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Dear Martha

    I am from a Sri Lanka, a little tropical island in the Indian ocean. I purchased and read your book
    “Ma, He sold me for a few cigarettes” three times, and was deeply moved by it. Thank you for writing that book and opening our eyes to some of the horrible things that go on in this world. It changed our lives for the better. My sister read it too, and we always think and talk about you. We not only talk about you but worry as well as wonder what happened to your little brother Charlie. We also worry about the other four siblings whom you looked after, even though you were a little girl then.
    I am presently in Ireland for one month (leaving on 16th July) and hope that I will get the chance to meet and talk with you before I leave.

    But , seeing and talking with you will be a special treat for me.

    May Gods blessings be upon you and your children.

    Mrs.Indira Ratnam

  39. Rachel August 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Very couragious book, and brilliantly written. Perhaps now there will be more awareness and prevention, as I’m sure this is not an isolated case.

  40. Tracy October 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    I have just found your books. They are amazing, very truthful and extremely sad of the experiences you went though. They are a fantastic read to both young and old, they tell the young of the past and remind the old of how awful, the “good old days” really were. Thank you for being so brave in telling of these experiences BRILLIANT thanks

  41. Theresa hayes January 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    ive read martha long book ma ive got meself locked up in mad house. what a life martha has led . is there another book cuming wld love to no if she marries the russian or ralf. hope its the russian he seemed very sincere in the book. would love to no how marthas life pans out what an amazing woman. stronger than strong in my view.

  42. Temple Flowers April 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Oh My goodness! I just back handed my teenage son for writing the above comment! He is using my pc & making fun of me for putting Martha on a pedestal where she belongs. She is an amazing author. Please remove that post & ignore my sons cruel comment. Kids! They just don’t get it!

  43. Penny Morgan June 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    The first books were believable but the last few especially “I’ve reached for the Moon” is a bit far fetched. Really loved the first one but the rest of them have been a bit too contrived for me.

    • administrator August 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Martha returns to the original form in her final book in the series, Ma, Jacsker’s Dyin’ Alone out next month. You’ll find out what happened to all the original characters – the Ma, Charlie and Jackser. Come to the launch if you’re near Dublin or London.

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