“Booby trap. Incendiary device. Gelginite. Nitroglycerine. Petrol bomb. Rubber bullets. Saracen. Internment. The Special Powers Act. Vanguard. The vocabulary of a seven-year-old child now.”
— Louise Kennedy in Trespasses
As you’ve read in earlier posts by Carole and Bonny, our current Read With Us book selection, Trespasses by Louise Kennedy, is set in a community on the outskirts of Belfast during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The book focuses on a young woman isolated by the invisible (yet very present) boundaries in her life — and what happens when she crosses them (or . . . trespasses).
I’ve read several novels and seen more than a few movies set during The Troubles. I visited Belfast with my sister a few years ago. And, of course, I remember hearing the news updates for most of my teen and young adult years. But . . . after reading Trespasses, I realized I was still hazy on the who-was-who and why of The Troubles (it’s really hard to keep track of all the “sides” and the timeline) . . . and I was inspired to learn more about the history of the conflict.
If you, like me, have found yourself interested in digging deeper into history while reading Trespasses, here are a few things I’ve watched, read, and gathered recently.
To start things off – and to set the mood – I’ve put together a little playlist of music inspired by The Troubles.
Next, I watched this movie, which poignantly illustrates what life was like in a mixed Belfast neighborhood for a young family at the start of The Troubles. (As I write this post, it appears that Belfast is available on most of the streaming services, although not always free. It seems to be available now on Hulu at no cost, but don’t hold me to it.)
I also picked up a book I’ve been wanting to read for quite a long time . . . Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s long (464 pages), it’s intricate and detailed and involved — but it’s also a highly readable history of The Troubles. It’s a perfect companion to Trespasses – or any other book about Northern Ireland. (I’m already planning to re-read Milkman. Although I loved it the first time I read it, I know I’ll get more out of it now, with my newly-acquired historical perspective.) I listened to the audiobook version of Say Nothing, although I did have a hard copy from my library as well, so I could refer back to the words in print.
As I read, I was curious about the title of the book, Say Nothing. (Which was also part of a quote in Trespasses, by the way.) It is, it turns out, a line from that great poet of Northern Ireland, Seamus Heaney! Here he is, reading a portion of his poem, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing. (The link will take you to the complete version of the poem.)
So many ways to be inspired — and to learn even more about The Troubles, and the thin boundaries Cushla (the main character of Trespasses) tread in her everyday life.
For even more information about this season’s selection, you can check out our Read With Us reference page (click the link there — or in the menu bar, above, or in the side bar) for background info and other “goodies” about the book.
Trespasses is currently available on Amazon in hardback ($20.25), paperback ($15.23), Kindle ($14.99) or Audible versions (1 credit). You can check your local bookstores for a copy — and, of course, the book should also be available at most libraries.
I do hope you’ll pick up a copy and Read With Us!
Our book discussion day for Trespasses will be Tuesday, June 6. Bonny, Carole, and I will each post discussion questions on our blogs that day, and then – later in the evening (7:00 pm Eastern time zone) – we’ll be hosting a live book discussion/meet-up on Zoom. If you’d like to join the Zoom (and we’d really love it if you do!) please let me know in the comments or send me an email (link in sidebar).
Read With Us!