The Joyce Girl

ISBN: 9781907605871
eISBN: 9781907605888
Format: Paperback/eBook
Price: £8.99
Available: June 2016


Avant-garde Paris is buzzing with the latest ideas in art, music, literature and dance. Lucia, the talented and ambitious daughter of James Joyce, is making her name as a dancer, training with some of the world’s most gifted performers. When a young Samuel Beckett comes to work for her father, she’s captivated by his quiet intensity and falls passionately in love. Persuaded she has clairvoyant powers, Lucia believes her destiny is to marry Beckett. But when her beloved brother is enticed away, the hidden threads of the Joyces’ lives begin to unravel, destroying Lucia’s dreams and foiling her attempts to escape the shadow of her genius father.


Her life in tatters, Lucia is sent by her father to pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung. For years she has kept quiet. But now she decides to speak.

Inspired by a true story, The Joyce Girl is a compelling and moving account of thwarted ambition and the destructive love of a father.

The Joyce Girl won the Impress Prize for New Writers in September 2015. The shortlist was judged by a panel of experts in the publishing industry. The novel was also longlisted for the Bath Novel Award and the Caledonia Novel Award.

A mesmerising and original debut, The Joyce Girl will be published in the UK and Ireland in paperback in June 2016.

Profits from first year royalties go to YoungMinds in memory of Lucia Joyce, who spent most of her life interred in an asylum.

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What people are saying.

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 Joyce Girl broke my heart, it entranced me, it educated me too. Lucia is such a compelling character, I fell in love with her and I felt for her too. Annabel’s writing is, quite simply, stunning and is matched by wonderful storytelling.
– Rebecca Saunders, Fiction Publisher at Hachette Australia

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

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

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

A heart-breaking book about devastating betrayals and broken dreams.
– Caroline Ambrose, The Bath Novel Award

I found The Joyce Girl engrossing. It had a very clear voice, and the subject matter was unusual and thought-provoking.
– Wendy Bough, Chair of Judging Panel, The Caledonia Novel Award