The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

Rachel Joyce’s debut The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was an exploration of a quiet, old-fashioned type of Englishness, as the eponymous protagonist walked from Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed to ’save’ a dying ex-colleague.

Rachel Joyce

Doubleday, €15.99;

ebook, €11.99

This “companion” novel, as Joyce calls it, is not a true sequel but a different spin on the tale: waiting in a hospice, Queenie writes a letter for Harold confessing 20-year-old secrets binding their lives.

There is little point reading this before Pilgrimage, as it assumes the reader is familiar with that plot. Instead, Queenie’s story is one of desperate hopes and repressed passions: she lived a far fuller life than expected, yet oddly Joyce makes her ’voice’ eerily similar to Harold’s.

The slow-burning narrative is engaging — though occasionally unrealistic — as it invites speculation before the big reveal and while some twists are decipherable in advance, this brings congratulations rather than disappointment.


Lifestyle

Leopard print midi dresses and sequins swirled beneath glossy goddess hair and golden headbands as the great and the good of Cork gathered for ieStyle Live.Leopard print and sequins to the fore at inaugural #IEStyleLive event

You have a long half-term break ahead of you all, and there’s only so much screen time anyone in the family can handle. Everyone is going to need a book-break at some point or another.We reviewed some of the best new books to keep kids entertained over half-term

Sexual politics, snideput-downs and family rivalries are fuelling the trouble brewing in a small Midlands town.Charlie Murphy and Pat Shortt star in new Irish film 'Dark lies the Island'

Robert Hume tells of the eccentric MP for Athboy, Co. Meath – born 300 years ago this month – who thought he was a teapot, and was afraid his spout might break off.A strange brew of a man: The MP for Meath who believed he was a teapot

More From The Irish Examiner