Our ReviewsTrespasses by Louise Kennedy

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

WOMEN’S PRIZE LONGLIST SPOTLIGHT

Okay people, I have two words for you. THIS BOOK. Now, you may be aware that I’m not the speediest of readers but I kid you not, I devoured this piece of literary magnificence in a day and a bit. Granted, I spent some of that time on a train but still. It was THAT good.

Homing in on The Troubles, Trespasses is set in Belfast. 24 year old Cushla, a teacher at a local Catholic school and a part time bartender at the pub owned by her family, lives a fairly ordinary existence — albeit one set against the backdrop of the palpable tension and violence of the time. Petrol bombs, shootings, beatings — all pepper the daily news but life still has to go on. 

And then; Cushla meets Michael. Older, intelligent and charismatic — he’s also married. And, a Protestant. What begins as a seemingly innocent conversation about learning Irish turns into a love affair. But one that treads close — too close — to very dangerous waters.

It’s hard to believe that Cushla isn’t real. When I put this down, I just wanted to call her and check in. And Michael, of course — so raw and complex. Gina, Cushla’s alcoholic mother with her own demons, who is trying and trying to get by. And Davey, Cushla’s pupil who just wants things to get better. And of course, his older brother, Tommy, who has seen far too much for eyes so young. 

I warn you: this is NOT an easy read. But it is beautiful and devastating at the same time. It’ll make you think — about these characters, about the challenges of history, identity and the barriers we might want to break. A huge achievement and a book that I’ll recommend until the cows come home. Go and read it! ~ S

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