Speed Reading - debut novels

In Elaine Feeney’s slyly humorous, dark and tender As You Were, Sinéad Hynes, a successful property developer, is confined in a run-down Galway hospital. She mulls over her brutal childhood as she avoids telling her husband, Alex, and three young sons, the truth behind her emergency admission. Her fellow inmate Margaret Rose reveals her own family’s secrets while trying to keep them in check via her mobile phone. In another bed, Jane has lost her mind but is frighteningly lucid about Ireland’s betrayal of her best friend.


Shahnaz Ahsan’s Hashim and Family is a poignant exploration of migration, identity, love and loss. In 1960, Hashim leaves East Pakistan to follow his cousin Rofikul to Manchester. Hashim works gruelling hours in the local factory so that his wife, Munira, can join him. They endure hardship and racism as they build a life for themselves. Rofikul marries his pregnant Irish girlfriend, Helen, but abandons her to report on Bangladesh’s fight for independence. Hashim and Munira are left to pick up the pieces and take in Helen and her son, Adam.


Beth Morrey’s Saving Missy is a delightful tale about community and second chances. Missy, 79, feels she has nothing left to offer. She’s grieving the loss of her academic husband and two adult children who left the family’s London home decades earlier. Against all expectations, her neighbours – one foul-mouthed, the other angelic – and a borrowed mutt called Bob teach Missy how to love and live again. This is the perfect tonic during dark times.


Originally published by
The Tablet