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Read With Us: Trespasses Discussion Time

Hello readers! The time has come to discuss our spring selection, Trespasses by Louise Kennedy. I feel like it’s been ages since we first announced this one and I’m really happy that the time to talk about it is finally here.

First, I’m going to ask what Kym always asks: What did you think of the book? Did you like it? And why? Or, if you didn’t like it, why not?

This was a 4 star book for me and this is the review I wrote for GoodReads: This is a wonderful debut novel, set outside Belfast in 1975, a time when the town was occupied by British soldiers and the Troubles were in the early years. The writing is nuanced, with some details merely hinted at, the characters are painfully human, and the plot meanders along nicely until there’s a rather shocking development that turns the world upside down in a myriad of ways. While there is terrible cruelty in the book, there is also an abundance of love, kindness, and compassion. Highly recommended.

Now, here’s what I’d like you to consider and leave a comment about.

I read the book Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe as a sort of companion to Trespasses and this quote from that book really struck me: The omnipresence of mortal danger drove some people to live their lives with a newfound, and sometimes reckless, intensity.

He’s talking, of course, about the early 1970s and The Troubles and the impact it had on everyone in Northern Ireland, but particularly around Belfast. And it really made me think of Trespasses and it made me wonder if that omnipresence of mortal danger is part of why Cushla embarked on the affair with Michael.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on that, both in the comment section of the blog today, but also at tonight’s zoom if you’re able to join us. And please be sure and visit Bonny and Kym’s blogs today to participate in the discussions there, too.

Happy Read With Us Day!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Interesting idea, but I don’t think so. I think the affair was stereotypical – excitement, forbidden, etc. The background of the Troubles was just how life was, as terrible as it was.

  2. I like that quote from “Say Nothing” and I suppose that could be true in this case…I also agree with what Dee said. I think that Cushla’s life was not all that great (teaching in a Catholic school with a nasty priest, working in her family’s bar/pub but not treated very nicely by her brother, living with an alcoholic Mother who had her demands, etc., etc.) – the “forbidden” affair must have been so tempting and exciting. I did enjoy the book – the writing was great and (as you say) very nuanced.

  3. I liked the book a lot, and I think it really illustrated well just how hard it was to live a “normal” life during the Troubles. Everyday life was so fraught, and it seems like anything you did could be considered an act of disloyalty by one side or the other.

    Really looking forward to our discussion tonight!

  4. The affair seemed quite reckless to me, but I guess that is the case for any affair. I’m not sure why Cushla and Michael entered into it, other than each of them was providing something the other needed. For Cushla it seemed like some excitement and Michael appreciated her as a person, for Michael, I’m not sure why other than Cushla was a young girl. The book pointed out that “regular” daily life continued during The Troubles, or at least as regular as it could be. I’m looking forward to our discussion tonight!

  5. I also agree with Dee’s comment and think that it was excitement and some intellectual benefit that drove the affair for Cushla. Looking forward to our discussion tonight!

  6. I did not like it at all (books about cheaters are never really something I enjoy) but beyond that, I found it extremely implausible that a Catholic girl would have an affair with a British Protestant….in Northern Ireland… ever.

    I watched Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland while I read Trespasses and something from the documentary really jumped out at me. A woman in Belfast said that when she goes to church she can no longer say the words from the Lord’s Prayer… forgive us our trespasses… because she can’t…. still today. Perhaps that comment colored my reading, but this was not a book I enjoyed.

  7. I really enjoyed the book and my heart went out to Cushla and how difficult those times must have been for her and everyone else. She was so isolated.
    I have not read Say Nothing, but I did read We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole shortly after I read Trespasses. O’Toole made me think about how careful people had to be during those times. It was easy to step out of bounds in so many ways and people coped through denial or a kind of blindness.
    I look forward to the discussion tonight!

  8. It was only a 3 star for me. I was annoyed about the affair from the beginning but in the end I ended up liking it more. I just didn’t see what she saw in him and then her family and the way they treated her just annoyed me.

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