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The Story of Before by Susan Stairs
  

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

An impressive debut narrated by an 11-year old girl, Ruth, a bit of a tomboy who has two older siblings and a new baby brother. The family move to an estate and Ruth becomes best friends with a couple of lads. The dynamics between the kids dominate this lovely book until an extraordinary tragedy hits us in the stomach. Wow. This is good, the characters very alive, the complicated relationships enthralling. Highly recommended.

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Synopsis

The Story of Before by Susan Stairs

I wonder today how no one else could see the bad thing coming. Not that I knew back then what the bad thing was; and if I had - if I'd known one of us was going to die - would there have been anything I could have done to prevent it? I play it all back in my mind, over and over. The clues were all there. On New Year's Eve, eleven-year-old Ruth and her brother and sister sit at a bedroom window, watching the garden of their new Dublin home being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Ruth declares that a bad thing will happen in the coming year - she's sure of it. But she cannot see the outline of that thing. She cannot know that it will change their lives utterly, that the shape of their future will be carved into two parts; the before and the after. Or that it will break her heart and her family. This is Ruth's story. It is the story of before.

Reviews

'The Story of Before is a bewitching read, a book that transports you back to the world of childhood, where everything outside of yourself is a mystery to be unraveled. Beautifully observed, the novel conjures up the landscape of nineteen-seventies Dublin as effectively as a time machine. I can't recommend it highly enough' -- Kathleen MacMahon

'Stairs revels in sharp physical description, tinged with implication... An assured debut' -- Sunday Times

'With this moving and evocative novel, Stairs has won her spurs as an emerging new voice in Irish quality women's fiction' -- Irish Independent

'As literary Ireland continues to await the definitive novel of Celtic tiger Ireland, first-time novelist Susan Stairs has swept in under the radar to pique our interest with a pre-tiger-era story which makes for perhaps more beguiling reading' -- Sunday Business Post

'An astoundingly assured piece of work which is beautifully written, poignant and compelling' -- Press Association

'A tale of childhood secrets and lies with a wonderful sense of time and place' -- Bookseller

About the Author

Born in London, Susan Stairs has lived in Ireland since early childhood. Involved in the art business for many years, she has written extensively about Irish art and artists. She received an MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award in the same year. She lives in Dublin with her family. The Story of Before is her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd April 2014

Author

Susan Stairs

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Author's Website

susanstairs.com/

Publisher

Atlantic Books

Format

Paperback
384 pages

Categories

Family Drama
Literary Fiction

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780857899088

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