Author: Louise Kennedy
Pages: 304 Pages
Cushla Lavery lives with her mother in a small town near Belfast. At twenty-four, she splits her time between her day job as a teacher to a class of seven-year-olds, and regular bartending shifts in the pub owned by her family. It’s here, on a day like any other – as the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploding, another man shot, killed, beaten or left for dead – that she meets Michael Agnew, an older (and married) barrister who draws her into his sophisticated group of friends.
When the father of a young boy in her class, becomes the victim of a savage attack, Cushla is compelled to help his family. But as her affair with Michael intensifies, political tensions in the town escalate, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.
As tender as it is unflinching, Trespasses is a masterfully executed and intimate portrait of those caught between the warring realms of the personal and political, rooted in a turbulent and brutally imagined moment of history – where it’s not just what you do that matters, but what you are.
I have been looking for a book with the Troubles at the centre of the story. Not so that I can relate to it. The Troubles didn’t affect me, I’m not Irish but I have wanted to learn more since reading the Kevin and Sadie books as a teenager. I’ve read a few but none have been as impactful as Trespasses by Louise Kennedy.
The story of Cushla Lavery and her conflicted feelings about her heritage versus her heart is a powerful read. For me, what makes it so compelling is the ordinariness of shocking events. The violence is presented as commonplace. That’s not to say that the characters in the story weren’t sympathetic or angered but just that they were almost used to it. Desensitised.
Trespasses is compelling and Cushla Lavery is a character I won’t forget for a very long time.
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy is available now.
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