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Image / Editorial

5 marvellous must-reads to add to your reading list

by Jennifer McShane
06th Sep 2020

These recently released titles deserve a place on your must-read list

The Weight of Love by Hilary Fannin (Doubleday Ireland, approx €15.99)
Robin and Ruth meet in the staff room of a London school in 1996. The two are drawn towards each other, even though they’re opposites in many ways; Robin almost instantly falls in love, but Ruth is much less sure. Robin then introduces Ruth to his childhood friend Joseph, and the two begin a passionate if tempestuous affair. Twenty years on, it’s Robin and Ruth who are married and have a now-grown son, Sid. As Sid prepares to emigrate, Robin and Ruth find their marriage in crisis – with Joseph never forgotten. A startling debut.

A Quiet Tide by Marianne Lee (New Island, approx €14.95)
This is a fictionalised account of the first female Irish botanist Ellen Hutchins, who lived in Bantry, Co Cork at the start of the 19th century. Internationally renowned within the world of botany, Hutchins’ work was stopped too soon, thanks to her short life, marred by ill health. Her legacy is given new life here as Lee tells of her talent, hope, heartbreak and resilience, all interwoven with modern themes. An exciting new voice in Irish literature.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, approx €16.99) Maggie O’Farrell’s
Maggie O Farrell’s first historical novel is based on the short life of 11-year-old Hamnet, the son of William Shakespeare and his wife Agnes, who we know as Anne Hathaway. Set in Tudor England, Hamnet’s name is believed by many to have been borrowed by Shakespeare’s most famous play, Hamlet. Here, O’Farrell creates an intimate, vivid portrayal of “what might have happened” regarding the death of their child and gives a fresh take on Shakespeare’s little-known family life. Atmospheric and engaging.

Oona by Alice Lyons (Lilliput Press, approx €15.99)
Oona is set in the Celtic Tiger years between New Jersey and County Leitrim, and entirely written without the letter O. Oona, an adolescent artist-in-the-making, lives in an affluent suburban culture of first-generation immigrants in the States. She lives within a culture of silence – so much so, that she is not told her mother lies dying of cancer upstairs in the family home. This ensures her journey to adulthood is fraught; she must always hide some part of herself. A poetic debut.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré (Sceptre, approx €14.99)
Nigerian teenager Adunni longs to be a teacher. Her mother, the breadwinner of the family, makes her father promise to continue her education, but after her death, he instead arranges for his young daughter to be married to escape their financial woes. Adunni flees her village in Lagos, determined to have a better life. Instead, she ends up as an indentured servant in an abusive household, where her hopes for learning remain far away. A must-read.

Photography by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

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