SUSAN Stairs’ first novel is an astoundingly assured piece of work which is beautifully written, poignant and compelling.

Set in 1970s Ireland, it harks back to a time when Starsky And Hutch was on television, adults drove around in Cortinas collecting Green Shield Stamps and children munched on Kool Pops and Bulls-Eyes while leafing through Jackie magazine. If, like me, you are old enough to remember those days, Stairs’s tale of life in a large family captures that era perfectly.

Eleven-year-old Ruth is the third of four children, quiet and watchful and sandwiched between her noisy, squabbling older brother and sister and adored baby brother Kevin.

On New Year’s Eve, after the family moves to a new home, she has a premonition something bad will happen in the coming 12 months and from that point on, the story unfolds through her young eyes, clouded by misinformation and misunderstanding until it reaches the heart-breaking climax.

The deftly drawn characters and perfect pace and tone make this a beautiful book with a real heart that stays with you long after you have turned the last page.

Susan Stairs is...

  • A London-born author who has lived in Ireland since early childhood.
  • A writer who has been involved in the art business for many years, having written extensively about Irish art and artists.
  • She received an MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin in 2009.
  • Was shortlisted for the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award in 2009.
  • She lives in Dublin with her family.