What book would Women’s Prize longlisted author Louise Kennedy take to a desert island?

What book would Women’s Prize longlisted author Louise Kennedy take to a desert island?

. . .are you reading now?

Author Louise Kennedy

Author Louise Kennedy

The best thing about being a writer is getting to read other people’s books before they land on the shelves, and I am currently stuck into proofs of new titles by Irish women. Tell Me What I Am (to be published in June by Faber) is Una Mannion’s exceptional second novel.

Mannion understands the workings of the human heart better than any writer I know, and this beautiful, haunting story of a missing woman, her sister and her lost daughter beats with the heart of a thriller.

I am also enjoying Sheila Armstrong’s debut novel Falling Animals (to be published in May by Bloomsbury). Sheila is a Sligo resident like myself, yet this cleverly constructed tale of a dead body on a beach and the repercussions its discovery has in an Irish coastal village is like reading about a place I don’t know at all. Lyrical, disquieting and utterly itself.

. . . would you take to a desert island?

The prudent thing would be to arrive with a book by a derring-do sort of chap like Bear Grylls, but I have no stomach for killing and suspect I would just prostrate myself beneath a shady tree and pray.

I used to think I would bring a big blank notebook, but am afraid it would become a diary of my deteriorating mental state.

Maybe I would take a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses; now is as good a time as any to admit I have never read it.

. . . first gave you the reading bug?

Mrs Pepperpot Strikes Again

Mrs Pepperpot Strikes Again

My mother likes to tell people I read War And Peace when I was five. In reality, I opened her copy — it had stills from the 1972 BBC series on the cover, which included one of Anthony Hopkins as Pierre — read a few prepositions aloud and sat back to bask in her praise.

A few days later she got real and brought home a bag containing Dear Teddy Robinson by Joan G. Robinson, Mrs Pepperpot Again by Alf Proysen and Sinead de Valera’s Irish Fairy Tales. I wonder if the fact that she presented me with a trio of books that day got in on me, because I have read three books a week ever since.

. . . left you cold?

I was obsessed with Jane Austen in my early teens, sticking postcards I had bought in her house in Chawton, Hampshire, on my bedroom wall and listening to Handel. (I was too impatient for needlework.) I was arguably too cynical when I got around to the Brontes. I adored Jane Eyre until I read the words, ‘Reader, I married him’. I hated it after that. As for Wuthering Heights. Demented. Far better to play the Kate Bush song loudly while doing cartwheels.

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy is published by Bloomsbury at £8.99

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