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Girl on the Leeside: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 20, 2017
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"In its hauntingly evocative Irish setting, this is a book suffused with poetry—real poetry. It is a book of awakenings of every kind, and of moving surprises. Like all good stories, as this local tale unfolds it becomes universal."
—Edward Rutherfurd, Author of Paris and The Princes of Ireland
"Quiet, lyrical and sprinkled with verses of the Irish poetry Siobhan loves, Girl on the Leeside is a slim, beautiful debut about one woman taking her place in the world."
"Lovers of Irish poetry will find this book a treat."
"A beautiful and poetic coming-of-age story."
About the Author
KATHLEEN ANNE KENNEY is an author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her writing has appeared in Big River, Coulee Region Women, and Ireland of the Welcomes, as well as other publications. She has had numerous short plays presented in Minnesota theaters and has published the play The Ghost of an Idea, a one-actor piece about Charles Dickens. Her play New Menu was a winner in the 2012 Rochester Repertory Theatre’s national short-play competition. She is currently at work on a novel based on her 2014 stage play, The Bootleg Blues.
Top customer reviews
Girl on the Leeside is deep in character study. Most of what happens concerns the human predicament, no matter where it is set. More than a coming of age story centered on twenty seven year old Siobhan Doyle, it is a story of the path to emotional maturity, out of a circumstantial comfort zone, (which, in this case, is perfectly plausible, due to its isolated and insular Irish setting) into all that it takes to overcome one’s self-imposed limitations to brave the risk of furthering one’s life.
In utter fearlessness, Kathleen Anne Kenney invites the reader to suspend disbelief in giving us an otherworldly character that speaks to the inner fairy in those who dare to dream. Small and ethereal Siobhan is orphaned at the age of two by her unconventional mother, and father of unknown origin. She is taken in and raised by her mother’s brother, Keenan Doyle, the publican of his family’s generational, rural establishment called the Leeside, near the shores of a lough tucked away in remote Connemara. Introverted, with little outside influence, she is keenly possessed by her culture’s ancient poetry and folklore. She is a natural born artist, gifted with an intuitive grasp on words and story, a passion shared by her Uncle Keenan, yet so pronounced in her that she walks the line between fantasy and reality. It isn’t easy to redirect one’s invested frame of reference in the world, if it isn’t completely necessary, yet necessity arrives at the Leeside, when American professor of ancient Irish poetry and folklore, Tim Ferris, comes to compare literary notes with Siobhan and Keenan. It is this catalyst that sets the wheels in motion of a heartfelt, insightful story that involves the willingness to grow. All throughout, author Kathleen Anne Kenney explores the myriad fears that get in the way, and shows us the way to triumph.
Girl on the Leeside is a deceptively soft read. It is so laden with beautiful imagery, so seamlessly woven with radiant poetry that it lulls you into its poignancy and holds you captive, all the way to its satisfying end.
Siobhan Doyle has been living with her Uncle Kee since her mother died when she was two years-old. Now twenty-seven, she helps her Uncle Kee run the family pub. The two also share a passion for reading and discussing Irish folklore and poetry together. Until Tim Ferris, an American professor of Irish literature, arrives to discuss poetry with her Uncle, Siobhan has been protected by Uncle Kee, content to live and work at the pub, while keeping to herself, and secretly writing her own poetry. Now she may be opening herself up to the world and new experiences for the first time. Suddenly some secrets may be revealed and her future may hold more options than simply working at the pub.
Pluses include the lovely writing and the Irish poetry sprinkled throughout the novel. Minuses include the many mentions of Siobhan's small stature, long hair, and fairy-like appearance. It is a stretch to also believe that today someone would be as naive and sheltered as Siobhan is portrayed here - but then this is fiction. The dialogue is a bit stilted at times and, although this is a coming-of-age story, it is the "lite" version. There are a few too many unrealistic circumstances for my tastes.
If you like novels that are light, gentle reads about Ireland, Irish poetry, and a late first romantic interest, then this may be a nice choice to bring along on your summer vacation.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Nan A. Talese.