Contemporary or historical, written by men or by women, these novels share strong, original, appealing, complex and sometimes controversial female characters.

They All Fall Down by Kim Hood

It is 1994. Rosie—a 17-year-old Irish girl — has been sent to look after her Rwandan grandmother. Callie—an 18-year-old Canadian girl—is looking forward to volunteering for an aid organisation in Africa. Both are going to Rwanda to escape their lives at home…

Why do we forget so quickly? Why is it so difficult for us to relate to human tragedy that has nothing to do with ‘us’? How does our definition of ‘us’ and ‘them’ influence our capacity to relate to one another, and to have lasting empathy? These are ideas that award-winning writer Kim Hood explores in her new novel.

“A grim tale, beautifully written. […] I recommend this book as an absorbing and powerful read on a difficult subject and applaud Kim Hood for (once more) not playing it safe.” —Susan Lanigan, author of White Feathers

Dirty Pictures by Patricia Ketola

An unclassifiable novel that mixes dark comedy, irony, and tragic poignancy.

Dirty Pictures is a love story and it’s a story of murder, it has elements of the family saga, twentieth century politics, art history and a definite erotic tinge. More than anything, it’s Martel’s story, she narrates a beguiling tale, this is her life, her world – it goes where it goes, unapologetically. […] Ketola has her own ways of seeing things, she makes leaps and connections in ways that more conformist linear storytellers wouldn’t. Dirty Pictures isn’t surreal, but it tips way over the edge of orthodox behaviour.” —New Books Magazine

_ _

The Painter’s Women by Fionnuala Brennan

“From the six female narrative voices that comprise The Painter’s Women, there emerges an intriguing portrait of the artist Francisco de Goya. Ambitious and difficult, unfaithful and generous, uncompromising and volatile: we see the man and the influences, both personal and political, that underpinned such masterpieces as Los Desastres de la Guerra and Los Caprichos.” Catherine Dunne

The Painter’s Women is a Cubist view of Goya. Fionnuala Brennan creates shards of the great painter as viewed by the women who competed with one another for a slice of his affections. Rich in historical detail and powerfully atmospheric, The Painter’s Women is as dark, passionate and haunting as a Goya masterpiece.” —Mary Morrissy

_ _

Silk for the Feed Dogs by Jackie Mallon

Kat Connelly, innovative designer and introspective daughter of an Irish farmer, is disappointed with her first mediocre job in fashion in London and escapes to Milan. Design and beauty are all around, dazzling and seducing. She has claimed her slice of the bella vita and with it a sense of belonging she has yearned for since childhood. Of course, the bella vita comes at a price… Silk for the Feed Dogs illuminates a world the author knows intimately with thoughtfulness, profundity and humour.

“The book is a must-read for budding Fashion Designers as it gives a behind the scene glimpse into the real world of fashion, for Fashion designers, who will relate to Jackie’s words, trials, tribulations and successes, and for Fashion Lovers who seek a great read. …Insightful, fun and full of ‘ah that’s what it would’ve been like’ moments.” —The Life of Stuff

_ _

The Dark Manual by Colin O’Sullivan

Japan-based Irish writer Colin O’Sullivan presents us with an unsettling vision of an anxious woman teetering in an anxious time.

The Dark Manual is a mature rounded work, assured and confident, at times lyrical and beautiful but also punchy and sharp. Susie Sakamoto’s bleak world is painful and depressing but compelling and honest. Yet this isn’t a hard read; it’s engaging, inventive and thought-provoking.”
Paul Burke, Nudge Book

_ _

Francesca by Donald Finnaeus Mayo

Set in East Timor and Indonesia in 1975, against a backdrop of war, endemic political corruption, moral compromise and the pursuit of oil, Francesca is a passionate story of one woman’s struggle against overwhelming odds to shape the country that nearly destroyed her.

“The attention to detail in Mayo’s writing conjures up such vivid images I could almost smell the humidity of the jungle. The story explores a roller-coaster of human emotions from the horrors of military conflict, the excitement of first love and the tragedy of personal loss. A fascinating story inter-weaving a cast of characters around one woman’s journey through life.” GoodReads