Friday, 13 April 2018


This starred review of Becoming Belle will appear in the Library Journal in the USA this weekend. VERY happy with it!

O’Connor, Nuala. Becoming Belle. Putnam. Aug. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780735214408. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780735214422. F

In 1897, Isabel Bilton dreams of leaving her home at a Hampshire military base for London. The oldest daughter of a British officer and his formidable wife, Isobel struggles against the familial and social expectations that diminish her. At 19, she fulfills her ambition to go to the capital, where she becomes Belle Bilton, star of the London stage. Though she relishes the nontraditional artistic and social freedoms offered by city life, Belle still has to contend with people who seem compelled to control her. This remains a theme throughout her life, even after she marries the dashing Irish aristocrat William Trench, Viscount Dunlo. Their marriage scandalizes Trench’s family and London society. Undeterred by malicious legal action and the threats of disinheritance, William and Belle relocate to the Trench family demesne in Ireland, their romance triumphant. VERDICT As with her debut, Miss Emily, O’Connor offers a stunning historical reimagining. Her eye for details, including Victorian dress, food, and technology, enhance her mastery of character and inner dialog.

[See Prepub Alert, 2/26/18.]—John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Monday, 26 March 2018


I'm just back from Cáceres in Spain, and am busily catching up on a hundred emails, a bit of writing, housework, cat-cuddling etc. I was over there to teach a couple of CW classes at the University of Extramadura - my friend Carolina Amador teaches there in the Departamento de Filologia Inglesa - she's a Hiberno-English expert. She had me over to talk to her classes about my story 'Storks', which is set in Cáceres (inspired by my previous trip to that beautiful city) and also to talk about my novel Miss Emily. Her students were great - really engaged and bright; I had a great time speaking with them.

I was put up in a stunning little boutique hotel on the main square, Hotel la Boheme which is decorated in a Moorish style, it's all salvaged tiles, gold sinks, wooden shutters and Moroccan lampshades. Glorious.

We managed to squash in two great museum visits around a hectic schedule of teaching and socialising with Carolina and her family (our daughters are friends too). We saw an exhib of Picasso's sketches at the beautiful Fundacion Mercedes Calles in the old town. I'm Picasso mad so it was a joy to see recognisable sketches that later became paintings.

Museo Vostell

Carolina also brought us out to Malpartida, to the Museo Vostell, one of the most eccentric and wonderful museums I've been to. A German man bought an abandoned sheep farm and woollen mill and turned it into a gallery for his own modern art and that of his friends, including Yoko Ono. It's a treasure trove of bizarre installations - think cars that rake the ground and rockets fashioned from vehicles and chunks of welded metal.

Cáceres is a bit of a hidden gem - it's 3 hours from Madrid, near the border with Portugal, and it's a gorgeous mix of old and new. It thrilled me - again - to see the huge nesting storks all over the place; to walk the cobbled alleys of the old town; to enjoy delicious cava and Rioja at insanely low prices, as well as local cheese and tapas; to go into the ancient churches and watch them prepare their Easter procession floats. Having friends who live in Cáceres is such a bonus. No doubt we'll be back.

Saturday, 17 March 2018


Lá fhéile Pádraig faoi mhaise. Happy St Patrick's Day! Here's the draw for the copy of YOU. Apols for the delay!

All the names in the St Paddy's day crock:

And the winner is...Grace Song AKA Annette Seifert. Get in touch with your address, Annette, to nuala AT Congrats!!

Thursday, 1 March 2018


In honour of Cathy Brown of 746 Books including my first novel YOU (2010, New Island) in her list of 100 Irish novels for Ireland Month, I'm giving away a copy of that book.

Just leave a comment to say you want to be in the draw. Simples!

I will post to anywhere but please do NOT comment as ANON. And check back in a week or so to see if you've won. (If the winner can't be contacted by St Patrick's Day, I'll draw another name.)

☘ Good luck! ☘

Sunday, 4 February 2018


Book giveaway on my Facebook page! One copy of Desnudo (Spanish edition of my short fiction collection Nude) up for grabs. It's a compact hardback with a bronze ribbon bookmark. Very lovely. It is translated by Maximo Alaez, who also did the drawing of the nude for the cover. Multi-talented Max, we call him.

Go here to enter!

Thursday, 25 January 2018


Today's Google doodle is in honour of VW's birthday

People always moan about January but, being my birth-month, it's a month I like (despite dire post-Christmas broke-ness). I turned 48 this month, so was happy to find, on the Monk's House Insta today, an extract from Virginia Woolf's diary from 25th January 1930, the day she turned 48.

‘I am 48: we have been at Rodmell—a wet, windy day again; but on my birthday we walked among the downs, like the folded wings of grey birds and saw first one fox, very long with his brush stretched; then a second; which had been barking, for the sun was hot over us; it leapt lightly over a fence and entered the furze—a very rare sight. How many foxes are there in England? At night I read Lord Chaplin’s life. I cannot yet write naturally in my new room, because the table is not the right height, and I must stoop to warm my hands. Everything must be absolutely what I am used to.’

It has been wet and windy in Galway today, with little spots of sun, and apparently it's been the same at Monk's House too. I spent one of the happiest days of 2016 there. Blogpost about that here. (And for those who have asked, no I am not writing a novel about VW, I just love her!)

A VW silhouette I bought at Monk's House