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The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce
  

The Herbalist

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Winner of the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013.

1930’s Ireland and a herbalist sets up his stall in a small town captivating all the women. We get their tales, soap-opera style, and through them learn what provincial Ireland was really like for women: the fear of sex, the knowing your place and the lack of dreams. All very sad.

Synopsis

The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce

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.

Reviews

'An elegant morality tale about the inescapable strictures of women's lives ... Her publisher describes her as a dazzling new voice . I cannot disagree' Sunday Times

'A vividly imagined tale of love, lust and longing ... It is also an important book, which adds a rich fictional version of Irish history to a stark period of Irish life ... a compelling read with a cathartic ending that deserves a wide readership. It remains authentic and moving to the end' Sunday Business Post

'A story that is sharply rendered, and full of dark humour' Irish Times

'It reminds me of a whole raft of great Irish writers ... There's a lot going on that is slowly revealed and the writing is beautiful ... A serious new literary talent TV3 I read The Herbalist with great pleasure. The characters jump alive from the page and I had to read fast to find out what happened, totally gripped.' Patricia Ferguson, author of The Midwife's Daughter

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

26th September 2013

Author

Niamh Boyce

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Publisher

Penguin Books Ltd

Format

Paperback
320 pages

Categories

Family Drama
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites
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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780241964583

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