Impress Prize Winner 2015 The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

Annabel Abbs smallAnnabel Abbs grew up in Wales and Sussex, with stints in Dorset, Bristol and Hereford. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of East Anglia and a Masters in Marketing from the University of Kingston. After fifteen years running a consultancy, she took a career break to bring up her four children, before returning to her first love, literature.

Her debut novel, The Joyce Girl, won the 2015 Impress Prize for New Writers and the 2015 Spotlight First Novel Award, and was longlisted for the 2015 Caledonia Novel Award and the 2015 Bath Novel Award. Her short stories and journalism have appeared in various places including Mslexia,  The Guardian, The Irish Times, Weekend Australian Review, Elle, The Author, The Daily Telegraph, Psychologies and the Huffington Post. She has been profiled in Writing Magazine, Sussex Life, Next NZ, Litro and Female First, Her blog, www.kaleandcocoa.com, featured in the Daily Telegraph in August 2015 and May 2016. She lives in London and Sussex with her family and an old labrador.

Annabel tweets (sporadically) on books, writing and the arts at @annabelabbs


 This is a hugely impressive debut. Annabel Abbs has brought to life an extraordinary cast of characters – Joyce, Beckett et al – and painted their rackety, bohemian world in vivid technicolour. (Lisa O’Kelly, Literary Editor, The Observer) 

Here is a powerful portrait of a young woman yearning to be an artist, whose passion for life – and rage at being unable to fulfil her talent – burns from the pages. (Anita Sethi, The Observer)

The best 20th-century fiction of the year (Historical Novel Society)

Abbs handles the parabola of this real life story with tremendous assurance. (Tim Blackburn, The Guardian)

 Here is Lucia Joyce, vibrant, passionate and alive, telling her own story. Profoundly moved by Lucia’s tragic life, Annabel Abbs has crafted a moving tale of thwarted ambition and personal tragedy. (Mary Talbot, author of the Costa Biography Award 2012 winner Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes)

 A captivating debut about love, creativity, and living in the shadow of genius. Annabel Abbs recreates the extraordinary story of Lucia Joyce – James Joyce’s daughter and gifted dancer in her own right – in language as sensuous and richly alive as Lucia’s dancing. (Louisa Treger, author of The Lodger)

 Abbs has found a gripping and little-known story at the heart of one of the 20th century’s most astonishing creative moments, researched it deeply, and brought the extraordinary Joyce family and their circle in 1920s Paris to richly-imagined life. (Emma Darwin, author of Sunday Times bestseller A Secret Alchemy, and The Mathematics of Love)

 The Joyce Girl is ambitious, insightful and fascinating on so many levels. I have never felt so akin to writers of the past I thought I knew! A stunning insight into some great literary minds. (Susan Heads, The Booktrail)

 A cohesive and compelling account of Lucia’s life (Natalie Xenos, Culture Fly)

 One of those hidden gems of a novel… both sad and enthralling (Judith Griffith, Nudge Books) 

Abbs brings the world of avant-garde Paris … to life.  (Viva Lewes)

It is difficult to believe that this is a debut novel for Abbs… she brings alive an extraordinary cast of characters and recreates the sense of the bohemian world of Paris in the 1920’s with great vividness.  (TripFiction)

Blogger reviews

A breathtakingly beautiful novel; it will linger in your mind long after you have finished reading (Rather Too Fond of Books)

From the very first page I was captivated by Lucia, the beautiful, elegant, graceful Joyce Girl. It is brave, it is bold but most of all it is beautiful. (Reflections of a Reader)

An incredibly feeling and insightful glimpse into a previously overlooked yet significant life. A must-read for anyone interested in Irish literature (Food for Bookworms)

A story that invades your soul and stays there… quite simply, stunning (Linda’s Book Bag)

Enthralling. It captured my imagination with its charm and energy… truly an impressive debut (Lit Nerd)

A beautifully crafted story… a poignant read…(Jera’s Jamboree)

It’s believable, and more than that, enriched with detail which brings the story to life. Without a doubt, The Joyce Girl gets a 5/5 from me. You need to go and read it. (Read by Jess)

The Joyce Girl is a fascinating portrait of a talented young woman destroyed by a patriarchal society… Abbs has created a convincing portrayal of a young woman virtually erased from history. It’s infuriating and heart breaking in equal measure. (Writes of Women)

If you love historical fiction, books set in Paris and/or the roaring twenties, complete with flapper dresses, pears and feathers, literary references, dancing and a slice of psychoanalysis, then THIS is the book for you… It’s eloquently written, impeccably well-researched and executed in a way that reeled me in from the first line… The Joyce Girl has leapt into my top ten favourite historical fiction books. (The Cosy Reader)