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Pub Date 14 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 14 Apr 2022
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ), Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)

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Cushla Lavery lives with her mother in a small town near Belfast. At twenty-four, she splits her time between her day job as a teacher to a class of seven-year-olds, and regular bartending shifts in the pub owned by her family. It’s here, on a day like any other – as the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploding, another man shot, killed, beaten or left for dead – that she meets Michael Agnew, an older (and married) barrister who draws her into his sophisticated group of friends.

When the father of a young boy in her class, becomes the victim of a savage attack, Cushla is compelled to help his family. But as her affair with Michael intensifies, political tensions in the town escalate, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.

As tender as it is unflinching, Trespasses is a masterfully executed and intimate portrait of those caught between the warring realms of the personal and political, rooted in a turbulent and brutally imagined moment of history – where it’s not just what you do that matters, but what you are.

Cushla Lavery lives with her mother in a small town near Belfast. At twenty-four, she splits her time between her day job as a teacher to a class of seven-year-olds, and regular bartending shifts in...

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ISBN 9781526623324
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

Sublime ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Trespasses' by Louise Kennedy is a gripping novel, sensitively-told and pitch-perfect!
Set near Belfast during the Troubles this is the story of a small community where division along sectarian lines poses a constant threat to personal freedom as Cushla Lavery, the young schoolteacher and main protagonist, learns to her downfall.
Thematically diverse it interconnects the poverty, fear, deprivation, brutality, misogyny, unemployment, violence and general despair that characterised daily life under siege. Kennedy writes beautifully contrasting the bleak News the seven-year old school children report each morning of bombings and beatings with a blossoming love story. But is this a society where it is safe to even fall in love?
This novel does not disappoint, in fact, it delivers on all fronts.

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Oh my, what a writer Louise Kennedy is. She has such a unique style - so quiet, intimate, sensuous, tender, evocative. Her sentences are short on words, long on emotion. Her characters are so real, her dialogue almost painful to read at times. Her ability to capture a sense of time and place is spot on.

This is her debut novel and it has a quiet power that left me devastated. It tells the story of Cushla Lavery, a 24 year old Catholic primary school teacher in late 1970s Northern Ireland, who also helps her brother Eamonn at the family pub. Cushla meets Michael, an older Protestant married man who works as a barrister and is involved in the civil rights movement, railing against injustice and police brutality.

When one of Cushla’s pupil’s family runs into difficulty, Cushla begins to help out, with consequences that only begin to reveal themselves gradually.

There is an melancholy sadness and a seething anger that permeates this book - it is a book set during The Troubles after all - but there’s also a strong sense of longing, of yearning, for love, for happiness, for peace, for something better.

I was a big fan of Louise’s short story collection The End of the World is a Cul de Sac and I loved this every bit as much and more. Her descriptions of the relationship between Cushla and Michael, the awkward physicality, the depth of emotion - all of it is so perfectly rendered. It’s hard to shake that feeling of doom that hangs over the relationship. As a reader though, I was hanging on to hope for Cushla.

This is a triumph of a novel, a gorgeous, layered, emotional story that delivers on so many levels. I know that this book will stay with me for a long time to come. It’s early in the year but I’m already calling this for my Irish book of the year. 5/5 ⭐️

**Trespasses will be published on 14 April. Sincere thanks to the author, the publisher @bloomsburypublishing and @netgalley for an advance copy of this book. As always, this is an honest review.**

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