Off the Shelf: Trespasses

Off the Shelf: Trespasses
By Louise Kennedy
Bloomsbury Circus LSBN 978-1-5266-2333-1 311 pp. Review by Terry Kenneally

Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles (1975), Trespasses is a shattering novel about a young woman caught between allegiance to community and a dangerous passion.

Amid daily reports of violence, Cushla Lavery lives a quiet life with her mother in a small town near Belfast. By day she teaches at a parochial school, at night she fills in at her family pub.

There she meets Michael Agnew, a middle-aged, married, Protestant barrister who has made a name for himself defending IRA members. Against her better judgement, 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 wants to protect.

Louise Kennedy, a former Co. Down chef turned author’s debut novel has made it onto a Waterstones hotlist of best debut novels. In Trepasses, Kennedy sets herself the challenge of encapsulating the unspeakable times of the Troubles and the powerlessness felt by ordinary people caught in the crossfire of the times.

She does so with skill, combining unflinching authenticity with narrative dexterity and a flair for detail, all wrapped up in a moving love story with a surprising ending. It is a world where you’re defined first and foremost by religious affiliation.


*Terrence J. Kenneally is an attorney and owner of The Kenneally Law Firm in Rocky River, Ohio. He received his Masters Degree from John Carroll University in Irish Studies and has taught Irish History and Literature in a local high school.

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