Longlisted for the 2016 Voss Literary Award
Whose side are you on? Where does your loyalty lie? Belfast, 1912. Jack Young joins the mass rally to sign the Covenant pledging Ulster Protestants to oppose Home Rule by any means possible. But he has a guilty secret. He is in love with a Catholic girl, Kathleen McCafferty, who is carrying his child. Public and private loyalties collide, dividing Jack and Kathleen, but their feelings for each other remain strong. After years of separation in which both become entangled in the political struggle and Jack survives the First World War, they find each other again. But troubles are brewing in Belfast and their love is once again threatened by sectarian violence. . . Can a priest’s words make a difference or will guns do the talking?
‘All the characters – and this is a major achievement – are brilliantly observed and remain clear and strong and individual in the mind; the voice is utterly authentic throughout; the pacing and tension are extraordinary; there was never a moment when I felt the quality or pace was misplaced or slackened off…The Blessing is the most satisfying and enthralling novel I’ve read in a long time’ – Alex Miller
‘The prose has simplicity, at times a limpidity, which give it a transparency through which its complex meanings can shine out. There’s no sense of striving for effect, it is simply a pleasure to read. The Blessing is a book that has us compulsively turning its pages at the same time as it makes us want not to finish it too soon’ – Marion Halligan AM
‘I think I’ll read The Blessing again – for the moment, it was impossible to put down once I’d started it. It has all sorts of details I like in a historical novel, and the love & sex & death are deftly worked in. Excellent storytelling.’ – Michael Sharkey