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‘I eke out my days here with care; spend them carefully, one at a time, like pennies in this one little room where all the straggles and strays of my life are gathered up neat as a ball of wool; the eighty-three years of them drawn taut to a single hard knot that weighs me down like a stone.’
From her bed in a Dublin nursing home, Harriet Campbell reflects on the time, long ago, when the second greatest joy in her life was her newborn son James; only her God had a greater claim to her love.
It is the 1920s in the shadowlands south of the border. Harriet and her husband Thomas are respected members of their strict Presbyterian Congregation; indeed, Thomas has just been made an Elder. But this is a changing Ireland, where the sway of the Roman Catholic Church is at its height, and the community is becoming increasingly isolated. Little does Harriet realise that, as James grows up, she will be forced to choose between faith and family.
Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Norma MacMaster’s Silence Under a Stone is an intimate, deeply moving human story, where sometimes the price of an unyielding faith is too great to bear.
'Just brilliant.' DONAL RYAN 'An exceptionally good book.' C. J. SANSOM
1816 was the year without a summer. A rare climatic event has brought frost to July, and a lingering fog casts a pall over a Dublin stirred by zealotry and civil unrest, torn between evangelical and rationalist dogma.
Amid the disquiet, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Dublin's coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.
An only child, Abigail has been raised amid the books and instruments of her father’s grim profession. Pushing against the restrictions society places on a girl her age, she pursues an increasingly dangerous investigation. As she leads us through dissection rooms and dead houses, Gothic churches and elegant ballrooms, a sinister figure watches from the shadows - an individual she believes has already killed twice, and is waiting to kill again...
Determined, resourceful and intuitive, Abigail Lawless emerges as a memorable young sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science.
'As fine as it is frightening' JOHN BANVILLE
'Strange, beautiful and quietly terrifying' DONAL RYAN, author of The Spinning Heart
'An original story, brilliantly told' Irish Times
'This one will stay with you like your shadow' Guardian
'Like many great works, it could so easily have all gone wrong if it hadn’t been done exactly right' Sunday Independent
It was a time when nobody called. Early evening, the hottest August in living memory.
A frightened girl bangs on a door. A man answers. From the moment he invites her in, his world will never be the same again.
She tells him about her family, and their strange life in the show home of an abandoned housing estate. The long, blistering days spent sunbathing; the airless nights filled with inexplicable noises; the words that appear on the windows, written in dust.
Where is her family now? Is she telling the truth? Can the man be trusted? Beautiful and disturbing, her story – retold in his words – reaches towards those frayed edges of reality where each of us, if only once, glimpses something nobody will ever explain.
‘The small room was thick with dark blue uniforms. Bull’s wool the men called the material. Silver buttons. Black boots. Caps. Batons holstered in shiny black leather cylinders. Handcuffs hanging from coat hooks, the keys dangling on thick green ribbon. Dusty files on shelves. Shiny whistles on silver chains. Ink. Nibbed pens. Blotting paper. The big map of the district on the wall and beside it a rainfall chart. The men having broken their “at ease” positions, gathered into the middle of the room. His father seemed lost. Like a man with a herd of cattle he could no longer control.’
An insignificant Irish border village at the tail-end of the 1950s. The Sergeant is nervous. His men are lined up for inspection in the day room of the Garda station. Chief Superintendent ‘The Bully’ Barry is on the warpath and any slip-ups will reflect badly on the Sergeant. But what can he do with the men under his command – all of them forcibly transferred from other more important stations in more important towns? Each garda has his own story, his own problems. How can a man be expected to keep the peace with such a bunch of misfits and ne’er-do-wells?
Observing them with fascination, all but invisible in his own quiet corner, sits the Sergeant’s son. On the cusp of manhood, he is drawn in by these rough and ready men, stuck in this place and time, when all he wants is a chance to leave and start his life anew. Life at home in the station’s married quarters is both comfort and knife-edged, ruled over by his by-the-book father and his gentle, emotional mother.
Taking up where his acclaimed A Border Station left off, Married Quarters is a funny, beautifully observed and deeply personal novel. and marks the return of Shane Connaughton, one of Ireland’s most cherished writers.
On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.
On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.
Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?
A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2013
Shortlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award 2014
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013
Winner of Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2012
“My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down.”
In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.
The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.
Donal Ryan’s brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in literary fiction.