Read With Us Selection
Fall 2023

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

“Restrained, absorbing … Kennedy’s prose is taut but liminal, opening up space for Cushla’s transformation … Trespasses has the compression of a short story but the gait of a longer narrative … A sharp attention to detail imbues each chapter. She subtly shades in her supporting cast … Kennedy avoids fussy plot twists and decorative language: By going small she goes large. Her intimate drama carries the burden of a larger history. Step by step, Trespasses moves toward inevitable tragedy, but the author surprises as fate closes around Cushla. Wise far beyond its first-book status.”
— Hamilton Cain, Oprah Daily

Brief Synopsis

(from Penguin Random House)



“Brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking.”—J.Courtney Sullivan, New York Times Book Review

“TRESPASSES vaults Kennedy into the ranks of such contemporary masters as McCann, Claire Keegan, Colin Barrett, and fellow Sligo resident, Kevin Barry.” —Oprah Daily

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

Amid daily reports of violence, Cushla 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’s pub. There she meets Michael Agnew, a barrister who’s made a name for himself defending IRA members. Against her better judgment – Michael is not only Protestant but older, and married – 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 most wants to protect.

As tender as it is unflinching, Trespasses is a heart-pounding, heart-rending drama of thwarted love and irreconcilable loyalties, in a place what you come from seems to count more than what you do, or whom you cherish

Information About the Author

Photo: Bloomsbury

Louise Kennedy grew up near Belfast. Trespasses is her first novel. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac. She has written for The Guardian, The Irish Times, and BBC Radio 4. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a chef for almost thirty years. She lives in Sligo, Ireland.

Book Reviews

From The Guardian

From The Atlantic

From Oprah Daily

Author Interview

From NPR: Interview by Mary Louise Kennedy with the author (7-minute listen) (also available in text format)

From Shondaland: Interview by Shelbi Polk with the author (text only format)

The Art of Reading Book Club with Colm Toíbín | Episode 13: Trespasses with Louise Kennedy

Book Quote

“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

Join Us For the Book Discussion on Zoom

Tuesday, June 6, 2023, 7:00 pm Eastern time
Questions will also be posted on our blogs: Highly Reasonable, Carole Knits, Dancing At the Edge.