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 integrity 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 Joyce's 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 by Annabel Abbs is the winner of the Impress Prize for New Writers, longlisted for the Bath Novel Award and the Caledonia Novel Award and was published by Impress Books on 16 June 2016.
Profits from the first year of royalties of The Joyce Girl will be donated to Young Minds; the UK's leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
The Joyce Girl of the title is Lucia Joyce, the daughter of world-famous Irish author James Joyce. Annabel Abbs has taken this little known character from history and with meticulous and intense research has re-created her life for the reader.
The Paris setting is exquisite, the vibrancy of this city full of artists come alive on the pages, as does young Lucia. A dancer, a dreamer with a big heart, she's full of life and colour and wonder. Yet Lucia is oppressed by those that surround her and the reader experiences each crushing experience alongside her.
Interwoven throughout the novel are the interviews and conversations that Lucia has with esteemed psychoanalyst Carl Jung, and as Lucia begins to speak, the reader meets the real Lucia. These chapters are incredibly well written, with such a wonderful insight into the workings of the brain, the treatment of people with mental health problems and the intricacies of human relationships.
Lucia captivated me from the very first page. Her excitement and joy for life, her love for her family, despite their displays of pure selfishness, and the downward spiral of a life that could have been wonderful, but instead was stifled and silenced.
Beautifully written, compassionate towards Lucia, yet startling and heartbreaking too. The Joyce Girl is a wonderfully fictionalised account of a young girl who was pushed to her limit in life and has been pushed to the background after her death.
Thanks to the author and the publisher for my review copy of The Joyce Girl.
Annabel Abbs grew up in Bristol, Wales and Sussex before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia.
Her debut novel, The Joyce Girl, won the 2015 Impress Prize and was longlisted for the 2015 Bath Novel Award and the 2015 Caledonia Novel Award.
Her short stories have been long and shortlisted for various awards.
She is now completing her second novel, based on the life of Frieda von Richthofen, wife and muse to DH Lawrence.
Before she began writing, she spent 15 years running a marketing consultancy where her clients included Reuters, Sony and the FT.
She lives in London and Sussex with her husband and four children.
Follow her on Twitter @annabelabbs
Follow The Joyce Girl on Twitter @The_JoyceGirl