Girl on the Leeside
A young, aspiring poet in a quiet Irish village thinks her life of books suits her perfectly until a charismatic newcomer from America broadens her horizons.Siobhan Doyle grew up with her Uncle Kee at their family pub The Leeside, in rural Ireland. Kee has been staunchly overprotective of Siobhan ever since her mother's death in an IRA bombing, but now that she's an adult, it's clear that in protecting her Kee has unwittingly kept her in a state of arrested development. The pair are content to remain forever in their quiet haven, reading and discussing Irish poetry, but for both Siobhan and Kee fate intervenes.A visiting American literary scholar awakens Siobhan to the possibility of a fulfilling life away from The Leeside. And her relationship with Kee falters after the revelation that her father is still alive. In the face of these changes, Siobhan reaches a surprising decision about her future. Lyrical and heartfelt, Kathleen Anne Kenney's Girl on the Leeside deserves a place alongside contemporary literature's best-loved coming-of-age novels.

Girl on the Leeside Details

TitleGirl on the Leeside
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 20th, 2017
PublisherNan A. Talese
ISBN0385542399
ISBN-139780385542395
Number of pages304 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Young Adult, Coming Of Age

Girl on the Leeside Review

  • Diane Haney
    April 4, 2017
    You know you loved a book when you are sad to have finished it ....when you sit and try to imagine the next chapter. Ireland has always called my name, so I was thrilled to win a giveaway set in that beautiful, mysterious country. Siobhan lost her mother when she was two. Her father was an unknown. Her Uncle Klee raised her at Leeside, a country pub, quiet, beautiful and somewhat isolated. They both were passionate about early Irish literature. Siobhan grew up introverted, self contained and con You know you loved a book when you are sad to have finished it ....when you sit and try to imagine the next chapter. Ireland has always called my name, so I was thrilled to win a giveaway set in that beautiful, mysterious country. Siobhan lost her mother when she was two. Her father was an unknown. Her Uncle Klee raised her at Leeside, a country pub, quiet, beautiful and somewhat isolated. They both were passionate about early Irish literature. Siobhan grew up introverted, self contained and contented....until a stranger, also emersed in ancient Irish literature came for a short visit to share his passion with her uncle. This was the beginning of Siobhan's introspection, confusion, awakening and emergence into the real world. The beauty of the written words, the snatches of poetry, the bonds with a few well chosen friends and their philosophies of life or self discovery are all gems in this story and draw you to Leeside.
    more
  • Daniel
    June 14, 2017
    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5I don't like using the term "chick-lit" (though it might apply here) and instead prefer to use the term "pastel fiction" ... fiction which is soft, gentle, with beautiful prose that paints a nice picture for the reader. This book might typify the 'pastel fiction' label.Siobhan Doyle has grown up under the care of her uncle, Keenan ('Kee'). in rural Ireland. Her mother died in an IRA bombing and her father was out of the p This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5I don't like using the term "chick-lit" (though it might apply here) and instead prefer to use the term "pastel fiction" ... fiction which is soft, gentle, with beautiful prose that paints a nice picture for the reader. This book might typify the 'pastel fiction' label.Siobhan Doyle has grown up under the care of her uncle, Keenan ('Kee'). in rural Ireland. Her mother died in an IRA bombing and her father was out of the picture before she was born. Kee has been very protective of his beautiful niece, but when an American scholar, Tim Ferris, visits on his research trip studying Irish literature, Siobhan starts to realize that there's more to life than uncle Kee.Author Kathleen Anne Kenney does a very nice job of bringing the reader into rural Ireland and creates a village as idyllic as I've always imagined and hoped rural Ireland to be. The cast of characters inhabiting the village, whom Kenney shares with the reader, is small, even though Kee runs a small, local pub. But this works well - no need to clutter up the book with characters not necessary to the story!The story.... In literature, there are four main types of narrative conflict: man against man; man against nature; man against self; and man against society. Sometimes we also consider: man against machine; and man against fate/supernatural. And while it's true that such conflict can sometimes be internal, I'm going to add one more form, specific to 'Pastel Lit': man against his imagination.What we have here is a 'slice of life' in a pretty setting. The most dramatic event in the book occurs in the Prologue. After that this becomes a 'coming of age' book for Siobhan. But Siobhan is a late bloomer. She is twenty-six at the start of the book (after the Prologue), working behind the bar of the pub. She's an introvert - we're told that straight up - but this coming of age story seems just a little odd, given her age. Keenan is not an over-bearing or cruel 'parent' to Siobhan. In fact he loves and adores her. Her friends love and adore her. The visiting American literature professor seems to love and adore her, but she's confused about her feelings for him because she's never had such feelings before.Then she does something wrong. She lies about something to the American, and even though she's knows it's wrong, she can't stop herself and she can't admit it. Her reason for continuing the lie never quite rings true for me. Her brain is screaming at her to tell him the truth, "But what Tim did next chased all thought of caution away. He took both her hands in his and looked gravely down into her pale face." For the rest of the book she imagines the worst because of the lie, and it eats away at her, and as though she were seventeen instead of twenty-seven wonders:"...is it love? How can I know that? It’s so scary and confusing. I’ve never … done this before. How in the name of heaven do people know when they love someone?”There is one source of dramatic conflict that has the potential to create some real tension, and Kenney does her best to build up this tension. Siobhan's biological father gets in touch with her and requests a visit. Keenan begins to show some of the Irish fire in his blood at the prospect of seeing the man who impregnated his daughter and then abandoned the woman and child. And what of this father who is a stranger to his own family? What brings him out of the woodwork? What conflict will he bring to Siobhan's life?But this is Pastel Lit. Keenan is calmed and much too easily admits to selfishly holding on to Siobhan and Siobhan's father loves and adores her and just wants her to know that he'll be there for her from now on if she wants it.One moment in the story came completely out of the blue. When Siobhan encounters two young women in a bookstore talking about a particular Irish poet that one of the girls just loves, but can't figure out how to answer the teacher's question about two particular poems. Siobhan instantly connects with the girls and helps them find the answer and she feels very good about herself and what she does. This will lead to a decision later in the book but the moment itself felt quite unnatural - enough so that I made a note in my book - "why is this here?"And finally, even the resolution is too easy - soft and pastel. The conflict of how she imagines every terrible thing because of her lie is finally admitted, but even here she suggests a lie ("I wonder if I was wanting you to figure it out the whole time."), and everyone - Tim, her friends - takes it all in stride, as if it wasn't worth being conflicted about in the first place.There is a market for chick-lit/Pastel Lit (my wife, for one) and those who enjoy the form will find Kenney's writing easy to fall in to. She definitely defines her characters well and will make you believe you are in the beautiful Irish countryside. But I personally like a little more grit and conflict to move my fiction forward.Looking for a good book? Girl on the Leeside by Kathleen Anne Kenney is a soft, easy to read tale of a twenty-something young Irish woman growing in to love and knowledge. It lacks some conflict/confrontation but offers a lovely diversion in a beautiful setting with a friendly cast of characters.I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.In full disclosure, I am personally acquainted with the author.
    more
  • Claire Fullerton
    June 21, 2017
    Because I once lived in a small town in Connemara, at the gateway of the Irish-speaking area called the Gaeltacht, I look for those novels that depict the region as it is, for once one has spent significant time there, its ways and means register in the soul with perpetual resonance, leaving one forever nostalgic for what can only be described as the west of Ireland’s consciousness. It isn’t easy to capture, for all its subtle nuances, yet author Kathleen Anne Kenney has done just that in writi Because I once lived in a small town in Connemara, at the gateway of the Irish-speaking area called the Gaeltacht, I look for those novels that depict the region as it is, for once one has spent significant time there, its ways and means register in the soul with perpetual resonance, leaving one forever nostalgic for what can only be described as the west of Ireland’s consciousness. It isn’t easy to capture, for all its subtle nuances, yet author Kathleen Anne Kenney has done just that in writing Girl on the Leeside in the manner the region deserves, which is to say this beautiful story is gifted to the reader with a sensitive, light touch.Girl on the Leeside is deep in character study. Most of what happens concerns the human predicament, no matter where it is set. More than a coming of age story centered on twenty seven year old Siobhan Doyle, it is a story of the path to emotional maturity, out of a circumstantial comfort zone, (which, in this case, is perfectly plausible, due to its isolated and insular Irish setting) into all that it takes to overcome one’s self-imposed limitations to brave the risk of furthering one’s life. In utter fearlessness, Kathleen Anne Kenney invites the reader to suspend disbelief in giving us an otherworldly character that speaks to the inner fairy in those who dare to dream. Small and ethereal Siobhan is orphaned at the age of two by her unconventional mother, and father of unknown origin. She is taken in and raised by her mother’s brother, Keenan Doyle, the publican of his family’s generational, rural establishment called the Leeside, near the shores of a lough tucked away in remote Connemara. Introverted, with little outside influence, she is keenly possessed by her culture’s ancient poetry and folklore. She is a natural born artist, gifted with an intuitive grasp on words and story, a passion shared by her Uncle Keenan, yet so pronounced in her that she walks the line between fantasy and reality. It isn’t easy to redirect one’s invested frame of reference in the world, if it isn’t completely necessary, yet necessity arrives at the Leeside, when American professor of ancient Irish poetry and folklore, Tim Ferris, comes to compare literary notes with Siobhan and Keenan. It is this catalyst that sets the wheels in motion of a heartfelt, insightful story that involves the willingness to grow. All throughout, author Kathleen Anne Kenney explores the myriad fears that get in the way, and shows us the way to triumph. Girl on the Leeside is a deceptively soft read. It is so laden with beautiful imagery, so seamlessly woven with radiant poetry that it lulls you into its poignancy and holds you captive, all the way to its satisfying end.
    more
  • Enchanted Prose
    June 18, 2017
    An Irish Sleeping Beauty (West Coast of Ireland, present-day): This is a novel with a fairy-tale soul. Sweet and dreamy. Ancient and 19th century Irish and Celtic poetry grace its pages, as well as the hearts and minds of its three key characters, giving it a sense of timelessness, soulfulness.The poetry memorializes Ireland’s mystical, magical beauty. Seamus Heaney exalted “lough waters.” William Butler Yeats wrote of “waters wild.” A. E. (George W. Russell) glorified “delicate dews” and a “bre An Irish Sleeping Beauty (West Coast of Ireland, present-day): This is a novel with a fairy-tale soul. Sweet and dreamy. Ancient and 19th century Irish and Celtic poetry grace its pages, as well as the hearts and minds of its three key characters, giving it a sense of timelessness, soulfulness.The poetry memorializes Ireland’s mystical, magical beauty. Seamus Heaney exalted “lough waters.” William Butler Yeats wrote of “waters wild.” A. E. (George W. Russell) glorified “delicate dews” and a “breath of Beauty.” Yeats also wrote of a “faery” and a “beautiful mild woman”; A. E., a “long sleeping.”Not all the poems are from the Old World. That beautiful fairy shows up as the girl in the title. Siobhan Doyle secretly composes her own poems immortalizing Ireland’s surreal beauty. She possesses a “fairy charm.” Even her watchful childhood friend, Maura (her only real friend when the tale begins), felt she “invented” Siobhan, that one day she’d disappear into her “fairy-mound.”That’s because of her striking appearance – long dark hair reaching down to her knees – and her mysterious and unworldliness around people. Instead, Siobhan, a “poetic soul,” finds enchantment in ancient Irish poetry and the misty beauty of her pristine surroundings on the western coast of Ireland, the Connemara region. Someplace between Clifden and Galway, two miles down a coastal road outside the fictional village of Carnloe, you might find Siobhan lulled by her hallowed Lake Carnoe – or in Irish – Lough Carnloe.The thing is Siobhan is not a girl. Though she’s quite small, she’s twenty-seven and still doesn’t know “how to stop being shy of people.” Her hulking, well-over six foot tall Uncle Kee, turning fifty, went to such lengths to protect her he “created a soul too gentle for this world.” He gave up alcohol when he suddenly became the parent of a frightened two-year old after his dear sister Maureen, Siobhan’s mother, was killed in an IRA bombing in Northern Ireland; presumably so was Siobhan’s father, a British soldier – a nod to Ireland’s anti-British history. He’d already forsaken his university dreams of studying Irish Gaelic poetry due to familial responsibilities but not his passion and knowledge, which he instilled in Siobhan.For all he’s gone through, Kee keeps his feelings to himself whereas Siobhan doesn’t even understand hers. They both share a special bond for Irish poetry, Ireland, and the three-hundred-year old stone pub passed down six generations that Kee owns and the two run together – the Leeside. Leeside, though isolated, is the cultural hub for this small, remote community. So it is remarkable how emotionally detached Siobhan has been despite friends and neighbors who gather here. Among them are Maura and her husband Brendon, their four-year-old daughter Triona Siobhan adores, a troublesome brother Nialle, and Maura’s father Seamus. Katie is another one of the regulars. She’s a brassy woman who raises Connemara ponies (Siobhan cherishes hers), who has had her eyes on Kee for a long time.A third devotee of Irish literature brings us to Siobhan’s sweet awakening. Jim, a professor of Irish studies from Minnesota, is on his way to visit Kee when the novel opens. Siobhan is apprehensively preparing for Jim’s visit, for her uncle has decided to re-open the pub to overnighters. That practice ceased years ago when an incident there threatened his precious girl. Jim has never been to Ireland, but Siobhan immediately picks up on his deep appreciation for Ireland’s “poetry, mythology, folklore, and history,” which stirs her delicate heart, unfamiliarly.Jim also sees something of himself in Siobhan yet he intuits with tenderness she’s very different than any woman he’s ever known. While he tries to separate his feelings from his scholarship, the truth is he has fallen hopelessly, achingly, in love with her uniqueness instantly. Hence, the set-up in this old-fangled love story.Jim’s romantic dilemma is how to penetrate Siobhan’s inner world without scaring her off and how to do that from afar. Could she ever leave a place she’s never traveled from, away from the waters that soothe her and the uncle she reveres?For Siobhan’s part, she’s never been involved with a man. She has no idea if the emotions she feels around Jim and the “emptiness” that bears down on her once he’s gone have anything to do with love. Perhaps the “intense passions” in her poetry are guiding her, she muses, for she had a visceral instinct she couldn’t just say goodbye as he’s about to leave. So she guiltily concocts a lie that assures he’ll have a reason to stay in touch. Their twice daily email correspondences draw them closer, yet the lie shames her, stands between them, and she isn’t sure of his feelings since they’re not face-to-face, illuminating a condition of contemporary life, though so much else in the novel feels as though time has stood still.A few more examples to make the case for the aura of yesteryear. A Prologue set in the 20th century conveys a “mystical bond between women.” The importance of female friendships being a “wellspring for each other” is a poignant theme of sharing and caring that plays through.There’s also a nomadic caravan family that stops by the pub every September to sell their wares, including the warmest and loveliest sweaters that pay tribute to Ireland’s sheep farming history. Siobhan looks forward to seeing the merry band of travelers, especially Gwen; also her son Turf (great name given the love of the land), his wife JoJo and their children. They’re gypsies: “members of an ancient clan, ragged nobles of the road, the last strands of a vanishing way of life.”The concept and spirit of traveling is also expressed in the backstory of Siobhan’s mother, a restless soul; by Siobhan who is calmed by sheltering in place; and through all the armchair travelers who see the world via literature, including poetry.It’s summertime, so we too are dreaming of traveling. Whether you’re making plans to travel from home or stay put and let fiction transport, Girl on the Leeside offers peacefulness. Peaceful like our world is not. Your trip will take you to an unhurried place of sheer natural beauty. A kinder, quieter world where life is more basic. That’s not to say these people aren’t hardworking, but they have time to count their blessings. Girl on the Leeside gently reminds us of that.So while you’re reading, imagine yourself as Siobhan gazing into the “pearl gray” waters of her lough. Imagine glimpsing the dramatic Aran Islands a short distance away, and knowing you’re among friends who extend a “perpetual welcome.” Imagine an “untamed valley of rough beauty,” with its verdant “folds of hills and cozy knolls,” a landscape so beckoning it seems a fantasy. Then wonder like Siobhan: “How does a person really know where they are meant to be?”Lorraine (EnchantedProse.com)
    more
  • Steph
    February 15, 2017
    Slow paced but vividly descriptive. Definitely brings out the feels for Ireland.
  • Lynn
    June 30, 2017
    I really really really liked this book! I seem to automatically be enthralled by an Irish/Scottish setting, and I loved these characters! Each character was well drawn at a level that felt quit intimate to me as a reader. I could understand and relate to each person's underlying frustration as well as his/her thought processes. I felt that Kenney did an amazing job of revealing just what was needed of each character's thoughts and actions to create a very intimate connection to each one. I will I really really really liked this book! I seem to automatically be enthralled by an Irish/Scottish setting, and I loved these characters! Each character was well drawn at a level that felt quit intimate to me as a reader. I could understand and relate to each person's underlying frustration as well as his/her thought processes. I felt that Kenney did an amazing job of revealing just what was needed of each character's thoughts and actions to create a very intimate connection to each one. I will definitely be watching for any books written by her in the future!
    more
  • Lori L (She Treads Softly)
    June 24, 2017
    Girl on the Leeside by Kathleen Anne Kenney is a recommended deferred-coming-of-age story for a woman in Ireland.Siobhan Doyle has been living with her Uncle Kee since her mother died when she was two years-old. Now twenty-seven, she helps her Uncle Kee run the family pub. The two also share a passion for reading and discussing Irish folklore and poetry together. Until Tim Ferris, an American professor of Irish literature, arrives to discuss poetry with her Uncle, Siobhan has been protected by U Girl on the Leeside by Kathleen Anne Kenney is a recommended deferred-coming-of-age story for a woman in Ireland.Siobhan Doyle has been living with her Uncle Kee since her mother died when she was two years-old. Now twenty-seven, she helps her Uncle Kee run the family pub. The two also share a passion for reading and discussing Irish folklore and poetry together. Until Tim Ferris, an American professor of Irish literature, arrives to discuss poetry with her Uncle, Siobhan has been protected by Uncle Kee, content to live and work at the pub, while keeping to herself, and secretly writing her own poetry. Now she may be opening herself up to the world and new experiences for the first time. Suddenly some secrets may be revealed and her future may hold more options than simply working at the pub.Pluses include the lovely writing and the Irish poetry sprinkled throughout the novel. Minuses include the many mentions of Siobhan's small stature, long hair, and fairy-like appearance. It is a stretch to also believe that today someone would be as naive and sheltered as Siobhan is portrayed here - but then this is fiction. The dialogue is a bit stilted at times and, although this is a coming-of-age story, it is the "lite" version. There are a few too many unrealistic circumstances for my tastes.If you like novels that are light, gentle reads about Ireland, Irish poetry, and a late first romantic interest, then this may be a nice choice to bring along on your summer vacation.Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Nan A. Talese.
    more
  • Cece
    July 2, 2017
    First I would like to say Thank you to Double Day Turning pages reading group for a copy of this lovely book! Ever since I saw a feature on the Goodreads feed and read a description, I knew I had to read it. This was such a wonderful and enjoyable novel and included so many elements that I love; Ireland, reading, family secrets and a love story. Do yourself a favor and read this! I hear the author is currently writing a new novel- I will be anxious to read it, too!
    more
  • Courtney
    July 2, 2017
    (Strong 3.5 stars) *I won a free copy of this book from GoodReads first reads* A sweet little story that manages to not be too predictable or saccharine. Lots of great characters. I really, really wish they hadn't given so much away in the blurb.
  • Safari Spell
    April 9, 2017
    Sometimes a book leaves you feeling like you just stared at the Grand Canyon for a few hours, and this is one.I highlighted about a dozen passages in this novel, which isn't something I usually do. There are some lines in here that will stand the test of time, mark my words! This book was so refreshing and breathtaking. It's slow; the kind that you have to treat like actually getting to know someone. It's not action-packed or filled with plot twists or anything, but the character depth and devel Sometimes a book leaves you feeling like you just stared at the Grand Canyon for a few hours, and this is one.I highlighted about a dozen passages in this novel, which isn't something I usually do. There are some lines in here that will stand the test of time, mark my words! This book was so refreshing and breathtaking. It's slow; the kind that you have to treat like actually getting to know someone. It's not action-packed or filled with plot twists or anything, but the character depth and development of Siobhan is so rich and engrossing. She is very real, sweet, and lovely. Probably the absolute best part of this novel - aside from the scene descriptions (which were phenomenal, BTW) - was having a character like Siobhan. It's so rare to read about a shy, sheltered character and I feel like Tim and Siobhan do about ancient Irish poetry every time I discover one! Somehow she's both complex and simplistic, and all I can say is that I absolutely adored this character.The only reason this book doesn't get five stars is because of the (view spoiler)[unsatisfying ending with the love interest. We're introduced to Tim very early in the story and there really should be a kiss with their proclamations of love. Since the whole book is dripping in romantic language and poetry literally everywhere, you kind of expect a kiss between the MC and the love interest. I'm no horndog or anything, but we don't get anything tangible between them. Nothing. Siobhan basically sexually fantasizes about him to the point of losing her grip on reality and they never even kiss. They get one hug, that's it. That sours Siobhan's "coming of age" in my opinion. (hide spoiler)] Also, since I'm American, I had to google Irish history. It's a little embarrassing, but I honestly had no idea what an IRA bomb was or why it was apparently dangerous to have a certain religious affiliation in parts of Ireland. I wasn't 100% sure what time frame the story took place in - I assumed the present, but I'm still a little unsure. Other than those small issues, I think the story was interesting and this book is one that will stay with you. Highly recommend!I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Sarah (Books Before Bandaids)
    April 7, 2017
    Kathleen Ann Kenney’s debut novel Girl of the Leeside is the tale of a bookish young woman’s late stage coming of age. Sheltered by her overprotective Uncle Kee at the family pub, the Leeside, Siobhan’s past is a mystery beyond her knowledge that her mother died in an IRA bombing. Her ability to interact with others is effectively hampered by her naiveté and her fear of getting too close to others. When the American professor Tim Ferris arrives at the Leeside to study with Uncle Kee, Siobhan’s e Kathleen Ann Kenney’s debut novel Girl of the Leeside is the tale of a bookish young woman’s late stage coming of age. Sheltered by her overprotective Uncle Kee at the family pub, the Leeside, Siobhan’s past is a mystery beyond her knowledge that her mother died in an IRA bombing. Her ability to interact with others is effectively hampered by her naiveté and her fear of getting too close to others. When the American professor Tim Ferris arrives at the Leeside to study with Uncle Kee, Siobhan’s emotional immaturity, as well as her passion for literature are put on display. Tim challenges Siobhan’s emotional boundaries and she suddenly experiences emotions that she has never experienced before and cannot name. Without female role models to turn to, Siobhan begins to retreat into herself and cut herself off from others as a protective measure against possible pain. To complicate matters more, Siobhan’s father, long believed dead, appear on the scene, challenging her trust with Uncle Kee and the walls she built around her heart. Siobhan’s emotional journey is portrayed with a realism that draws on the pain and fear of her slow transformation. Each new emotion she felt was overwhelming, with her raw feelings bleeding onto the page. While Kenney wrote Siobhan with grace, I found the other characters to be flat and at times unrealistic. Kenney’s descriptions of the setting are beautiful and engrossing, drawing me into Ireland word by word. Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
    more
  • Susan
    June 28, 2017
    EW grade: B
Write a review