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Trespasses
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From the acclaimed writer of The End of the World is a Cul de Sac comes an astonishing debut novel about the lives ordinary people, where the political invades the personal and love is never far away from violence

About the Author

Louise Kennedy grew up in Holywood, Co. Down. Her short stories have appeared in journals including The Stinging Fly, The Tangerine, Banshee, Wasifiri and Ambit and she has written for the Guardian, Irish Times, BBC Radio 4 and RTE Radio 1. Her work has won prizes and she was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award in both 2019 and 2020. Before starting her writing career, she spent nearly thirty years working as a chef. She lives in Sligo with her husband and two children.

Reviews

Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. This is an unashamedly conventional realist novel, but such an exceptional one that it’s bound to rekindle even the most cynical reader’s appreciation of the form . . . Spellbindingly, heartbreakingly unforgettable
*Daily Mail, Books of the Year*

Not many novels mix juicy romance and wartime violence. War-induced longing is a common fictional occurrence – consider Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong, or, to a lesser degree, Ian McEwan’s Atonement – but a vivid, sexy, not-doomed-feeling love story that also takes a war zone as a central subject rather than simply a setting is rarer
*Atlantic*

A first novel that reads nothing like one, this is a tender, fiercely beautiful story . . . Every finely grooved detail here feels authentic’
*Sunday Times, Books of the Year*

Hands down the best book this year was Trespasses by Louise Kennedy. There has been praise for Kennedy’s eye in recreating the Belfast of the mid-70s, but it is the precision of the emotional detail that holds the readers attention: after a while, you forget to exhale
*Anne Enright, Irish Times, Books of the Year*

We know that civil wars are made up of thousands of small tragedies. But I know few novels that convey the grim predictability of everyday violence during that period so well. Kennedy’s careful attention is a welcome counter to Brexit’s careless disregard of lives and loves lost
*New Statesman, Books of the Year*

Brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking . . . I am not a crier, but by the final pages of Trespasses I was in tears. It’s a testament to Kennedy’s talents that we come to love and care so much about her characters
*New York Times Book Review*

Thrilling, wise, and moving, Trespasses is a remarkable novel about the wages of love in a time marked by brutality, strife, and above all, a will to hope. A totally absorbing read
*Brandon Taylor, author of REAL LIFE and FILTHY ANIMALS*

Absorbing . . . Wise far beyond its first book status, Trespasses vaults Kennedy into the ranks of such contemporary masters as McCann, Claire Keegan, Colin Barrett, and fellow Sligo resident, Kevin Barry
*Oprah Daily*

Brilliantly depicted . . . Kennedy has written a captivating first novel which manages to be beautiful and devastating in equal measure
*Washington Post*

Kennedy’s powerful writing, tragic humour and vivid characters will move and haunt you
*San Francisco Chronicle*

When I want help there’s non-fiction but when I want truth, I go to fiction . . . Louise Kennedy has smashed it out the park with Trespasses. This is a love story for people that would normally watch political thrillers or historical thrillers . . . You can feel the cigarette smoke, you can taste the Irish stew bubbling, you can feel the carpet, and the tension ratchets. It’s plotty, it’s scary, it’s full of eroticism, it’s like Sally Rooney mixed with a political thriller. I love it
*Russell Kane, Steph’s Packed Lunch*

Kennedy has an impressively light touch for so heavy a subject, writing with a savage beauty about a brutal era . . . Trespasses is not a story that can end well, not in 70s Belfast. But it is testament to Kennedy’s power as a storyteller that she makes us think it might. An exceptional debut
*i*

Heart-wrenching . . . If the pervading tenor of Kennedy’s stories is one of resignation, Trespasses is all the more moving for allowing its protagonists to hope . . . Historical fiction at its finest
*Financial Times*

The wonder of the book is that its unassumingly arrow-like narrative can fold so much into its layers: at once intimate and political, it’s a love story, a crime drama and a state-of-the-nation period snapshot. Kennedy manages the tension expertly, steadily steering us to an explosive climax with no frills
*Daily Mail*

Insightful, humane and utterly determined to find its own freedoms, Trespasses is a bright flare of energy and wit, Kennedy a writer of exceptional empathy, style and skill
*Irish Times*

This cleverly crafted love story about ordinary lives ravaged by violence tears at your heart without succumbing to sentimentality. It reveals the bleak consequences of crossing invisible lines in a fractured community, even with the best intentions
*Spectator*

Descends from Ernest Hemingway and the early James Joyce through (in Ireland) writers such as Brian Moore and Colm Tóibín . . . Trespasses is a novel distinguished by a quality rare in fiction at any time: a sense of utter conviction . . . It thrums throughout with the passion and poise of mastery
*Guardian*

A heartbreaking story of forbidden love . . . What makes the novel so powerful is that she has had forty years to process those traumas. Her experience, warmth and openness sets Kennedy apart . . . Louise Kennedy’ energy and talent aren’t going anywhere
*Sunday Times*

Kennedy sets herself the challenge of encapsulating those unspeakable times and the powerlessness felt by ordinary people caught in the crossfire. She does so with skill, combining unflinching authenticity with narrative dexterity and a flair for detail, all wrapped up in a moving love story
*Observer*

Utterly compelling. So lightly done too, the language like breathing, and the story rich with kindness, harshness and connection
*Esther Freud*

Enough emphasis can’t be put on just how good the writing is here . . . This reviewer never wanted to put down this heart-breaking, warm, sad and funny book. The novel was invented for writing like this
*Sunday Independent*

There are shades of John McGahern in Kennedy’s surgical decomposition of coincidence and its deathly operations, and of Ciaran Carson, the laureate of Belfast’s otherwise invisible cities. And it is hard too not to think of Anna Burns’s masterpiece, Milkman, as the nervous system to Kennedy’s bodily Trespasses . . . Insightful, humane and utterly determined to find its own freedoms, Trespasses is a bright flare of energy and wit, Kennedy a writer of exceptional empathy, style and skill
*Irish Times*

An astonishing debut about love, identity and the harsh realities of life in Belfast in the mid 70s
*i paper*

Transcends time and place . . . Trespasses feels so authentic it’s as if nobody wrote it at all; it always existed
*Irish Independent*

One of the most acclaimed short story writers of recent years is Louise Kennedy and now her first novel, Trespasses, proves she is just as skilled at crafting a longer tale . . . She’s also immensely talented at creating well rounded, memorable characters [who] live long in the reader’s memory . . . This is a gorgeous, vital, addictive book. Don’t miss it’
*RTÉ, Book of the Week*

Gut-wrenchingly powerful . . . Blistering . . . Thrillingly readable, bursting with both anger and a touching compassion for (most of) the people caught up in a situation they’re powerless to change . . . It’s clear that in Louise Kennedy we have a new literary star
*Reader's Digest*

A deeply impressive novel . . . [Kennedy] writes beautifully about love, awkward love, love between two people who the more censorious in our midst might say have no business being in love . . . It feels true and honest, heartbreaking and tender . . . I love it
*Ronan Bennett*

Kennedy’s writing is beautiful and I will continue to read everything she publishes
*Sarah Moss*

I opened this for just ‘the briefest of looks’ this morning and didn’t close it until the very last page. It’s compelling, heartbreaking and brilliant. I loved it!
*Elaine Feeney, Twitter*

Stunningly brilliant
*Liz Nugent*

I hardly have words for how viscerally this book affected me, how much it moved me. Pitch-perfect in its evocation of its time and place, unflinching in the rawness of its longing, Trespasses is an extraordinary read – it will break your heart
*Lucy Caldwell*

A layered, involving story, told with artfully quiet symbolism and remarkable narrative control
*Observer*

I stayed up until six a.m. ON A WEEKNIGHT to finish it. I was poleaxed by it. I grew up in 1970s Northern Ireland so I recognise everything in it, but I have never read a novel that so faithfully captures it. Louise Kennedy dares to write things that readers might find a bit shocking - the crude and the cruel. It's raw. But I was surprised at the amount of kindness shown too. She does not stint
*Diana Henry*

A tale of female sacrifice . . . Expect hints of Derry Girls
*Elle*

Louise Kennedy’s Trespasses touches tenderly and hits hard – a compulsively readable love story which is also a lament for a society agonizingly divided against itself. Every word rings true
*Emma Donoghue*

Trespasses is a beautiful, devastating novel. It feels real and true, and it loves its characters, utterly authentic people trying to live ordinary lives in desperate times. This book will last
*Nick Hornby*

[Louise Kennedy's] debut novel is incredible. Intense, unflinchingly honest, it broke my heart a million times, I was consumed by it
*Marian Keyes*

I had high hopes for this but it has surpassed them. Trespasses by Louise Kennedy feels real and raw. It’s a tenderly told but unsentimental story of a love affair but also an unflinchingly honest portrait of a society seething with hatred and fear
*Martin Doyle*

Louise Kennedy's spare, lyrical tale of love and everyday life in The Troubles is a stunning debut
*Standard Issue podcast*

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