History is full of lies and secret betrayals and never more so than in this new novel by Mary Morrissy. In his memoirs, Sean O’Casey killed off his beloved sister Bella a full ten years before her actual death, while Morrissy summons Bella from the dark margins of history. Fifteen years older than her famous brother, Bella is bright, beautiful and talented and wins a scholarship to train as a teacher. Her story unfolds against a backdrop of growing nationalism. The hopes of the Casey family rest on her success and Bella is determined to improve their lot through virtue and hard work. However, her promising future is compromised and, trapped by poverty and shame, Bella must become an expert in lies and deceit in order to survive. Beautifully written, compelling and meticulously researched; one of the best Irish novels of recent years.
– Josie Van Embden, Dubray Books, Dun Laoghaire