Discover Christmas gifts we know they'll love
Holding Her Breath

Holding Her Breath



This critically acclaimed debut will be a guaranteed hit with literary fiction lovers this Christmas.


A young woman comes of age in the shadow of her family's tragic past

When Beth Crowe starts university, she is shadowed by the ghost of her potential as a competitive swimmer. Free to create a fresh identity for herself, she finds herself among people who adore the poetry of her grandfather, Benjamin Crowe, who died tragically before she was born. She embarks on a secret relationship - and on a quest to discover the truth about Benjamin and his widow, her beloved grandmother Lydia. The quest brings her into an archive that no scholar has ever seen, and to a person who knows things about her family that nobody else knows.

Holding Her Breath is a razor-sharp, moving and seriously entertaining novel about complicated love stories, ambition and grief - and a young woman coming fully into her powers.



'A stunning debut from this new Irish talent' STELLAR

'A beautiful coming-of-age story told with impressive skill and lightness of touch . . . I absolutely loved it' LOUISE O'NEILL

'Whip smart observations and addictive prose' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

'Precise, sure, engaging, and a joy to read' RODDY DOYLE

'A moving debut with a satisfying conclusion' IRISH INDEPENDENT

'Brilliant, vivid - I enjoyed this book ENORMOUSLY' MARIAN KEYES

'Enthralling' IMAGE

'A nimble account of student life with a darkly enjoyable undercurrent of secrecy and emotional turmoil' SARA BAUME

'A truly compelling read, and one I wholeheartedly recommend' BUZZ

'Through the dark sky of our times, Eimear Ryan arrives like a comet, a bright talent scorching through every page' DOIREANN NÍ GHRÍOFA, author of A Ghost in the Throat

'Brilliantly realised, gripping, and moving . . . This is absolutely the real thing' KEVIN POWER

'Written with a wonderful clarity and insight, Holding Her Breath lingers in the imagination. Beth's unravelling and re-ravelling is drawn with great skill and empathy. A brilliant debut' DONAL RYAN


  • Funny, dark and unexpected
    Kevin Power, The Last Word with Matt Cooper

About the author

Eimear Ryan

Eimear Ryan's writing has appeared in Granta, Winter Papers, The Dublin Review and The Stinging Fly. She is a co-founder of the literary journal Banshee and its publishing imprint, Banshee Press. Her first novel, Holding Her Breath, was shortlisted for the Newcomer of the Year Award at the Irish Book Awards and for the John McGahern Prize. Her debut non fiction book, The Grass Ceiling, explores women's experiences in the sporting world. A native of Co. Tipperary, Eimear now lives in Cork city.
Learn More

More from this Author

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more