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Niamh Boyce trained as a painter and started writing just four years ago. Since then she has been shortlisted for a number of literary awards and was the 2012 Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the Year. The Herbalist is her first novel. She lives in the Irish south midlands with her family.
Winner of the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013. The Herbalist is the electrifying first novel from Niamh Boyce, winner of the 2012 Hennesssy XO Award for New Irish Writing. This is a beautiful and gripping story from 1930s rural Ireland, a time when women paid a terrible price for unmarried pregnancy, The Herbalist will appeal to fans of The Midwife's Daughter and The Outcast. An elegant morality tale about the inescapable strictures of women's lives in post-independence Ireland. Her publisher describes her as a dazzling new voice . I cannot disagree. (Sunday Times). Out of nowhere the herbalist appears and sets up his stall in the market square. The stranger is exotic and glamourous and teenager Emily is spellbound - here is a man of the world who won't care that she's not respectable. However, Emily has competition for the herbalist's attentions. The women of the town - the women from the big houses and their maids, the shopkeepers and their serving girls, those of easy virtue and their pious neighbours - are also mesmerized by the visitor who, they say, can perform miracles. But when Emily discovers the miracle - worker's dark side, her world turns upside down. She may be naive, but she has a fierce sense of right and wrong. So, with his fate lying in her hands, Emily must make the biggest decision of her young life. To make the herbalist pay for his sins against the women of the town? Or let him escape to cast his spell on another place? Comparisons to Edna O'Brien and Pat McCabe are more than justified. That said, Boyce has a unique voice and sensibility, one that's entirely her own. (Image). A story that is sharply rendered, and full of dark humour . (Irish Times). Builds to a thematically satisfying, even exciting, conclusion...Emily's innate sense of right and wrong, in particular, shines out against the suffocating hypocrisy of the times . (Irish Independent). In addition to winning the 2012 Hennessy New Writing Award, Niamh Boyce has been shortlisted for the 2011 Francis McManus Short Story competition, the 2010 Hennessy Literary Award and the 2010 Molly Keane Award. The Herbalist is a deeply moving and viscerally powerful novel - a dazzling and unforgettable story of love, shame, hypocrisy and courage.