Growing up in the west of Ireland in the 1940s Tess is a shy introverted child. But beneath her quiet exterior lies a heart of fire. A fire that will later drive her to make her home among the hurly burly of 1960s New York.
Over four decades and a life lived with quiet intensity on Academy Street in upper Manhattan, Tess encounters ferocious love and calamitous loss. But what endures is her bravery and fortitude, and her striking insights even as she is ‘floating close to hazard.’
Joyous and heart-breaking, restrained but sweeping, this is a profoundly moving story that charts one woman’s quest for belonging amid the dazzle and tumult of America’s greatest city. Academy Street establishes Mary Costello as one of Ireland’s most exciting literary voices.
This is a powerful debut novel that I read some time ago yet I am still thinking about the Tess, her life and the sadness of it. Despite being a short book the story spans decades from growing up in Ireland through to experiencing 9/11 in New York. Her writing seeps into your bones and your heart as the sadness of Tess’s life is something that does not leave you easily. Beautiful writing that wraps its arms around you, is sparse and haunting all at the same time.
For lovers of Colm Toibin or William Trevor this has to be your next read.