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Review: Trespasses by Louise Kennedy


Title: Trespasses
Author: Louise Kennedy
Year published: 2023
Category: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2024 Google Reading map): UK (Northern Ireland)

SummaryAmid daily reports of violence, Cushla lives a quiet life with her mother in a small town near Belfast, teaching at a parochial school and moonlighting at her family’s pub. There she meets Michael Agnew, a Protestant barrister who’s made a name for himself defending IRA members. Against her better judgment, Cushla lets herself get drawn in by him and his sophisticated world, and an affair ignites. Then the father of a student is savagely beaten, setting in motion a chain reaction that will threaten everything, and everyone, Cushla most wants to protect.

Review: I asked for this novel for Christmas and was given it then started reading it in January but gave up. It must not have been the right time because this time around I read it in just a few days.

Northern Ireland in the 1970s. The Troubles. It was (is?) such a fraught place and time and this novel does an exceptional job at showing how it all affected people in their every-day lives. The tensions for families (mothers in particular as they tried to protect their children), teachers, lawyers, the police, Protestants, Catholics, and more are palpable. The characters in this story are strong and ask for empathy (but not sympathy) as they do the best they can given the circumstances.

This is really a characters and emotion-driven novel and while there are events, it's more a "days in the life" of a city kind of book. Reading it, I feel the weight of history and every day life in Northern Ireland.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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