Set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland this debut novel centres on love and the challenges of living and working on a daily basis during this period of sectarian and political unrest. A moving, touching and wonderful read which gives a breath-taking, honest insight into this fragile period.
- best book club reads -
BY LOUISE KENNEDY
A brave and compelling debut novel by Louise Kennedy (short-listed for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction). Set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, 'Trespasses' centres on love and the challenges of living and working on a daily basis during this period of sectarian and political unrest.
It's 1975 and Cushla Lavey, a young Catholic primary school teacher in her twenties lives at home with her alcoholic mother whilst also serving in the family pub. Here she meets Michael, an older, married barrister and perhaps most significantly, a Protestant. They begin a precarious and secretive relationship. At the same time, Cushla becomes close to Davey, one of her pupils from school, who coming from a disadvantaged Catholic family is bullied and marginalised. Both these relationships are dangerous and perhaps destined for failure?
Cushla is educated and bright and yet the focus from both her mother and brother is to settle down, marry and have her own family. The pub adds a testing dimension as it is a place where the regulars include many Protestants, but also members of the British army. Kennedy, the author, grew up in Northern Ireland during this era and therefore has candidly captured the complications of growing up Catholic in a predominantly Protestant town, making 'Trespasses' all the more poignant.
In Cushla, Kennedy has created a captivating and charming character, but also frustrating as this typically chaotic 20 year-old allows her well intentioned actions and naivety to lead towards disastrous consequences. Cushla is often unaware of the risks she is taking and the lines she is crossing which makes her vulnerability even more striking. Her close friend Jerry, who whilst not knowing the extent of what she is up to and who she is seeing, supports her throughout which adds humour and a touching reality to her predicament.
'Trespasses' is a beautiful and heart-breaking read which opens your eyes to the constraints of class and religion on young people trying to live their lives in 'The Troubles'. A moving, touching and wonderful read which gives a breath-taking, honest insight into this fragile period.
Den tip - The book begins and ends in the same place, so it is worthwhile re-reading the opening pages again once you have read the book.