A Novel


By Roisín O’Donnell

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$38.00 CAD


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From an unforgettable new voice in Irish fiction, a heart-pounding, life-affirming story about one woman trying to leave her marriage and start over
On a bright spring afternoon, Ciara Fay makes a split-second decision that will change everything. Grabbing an armful of clothes off the clothesline, she straps her two young daughters into her car and drives away. Head spinning, all she knows for certain is that home is no longer safe—and that this time, when she leaves, she must stay away.
On the surface, she has a perfect life: her husband, Ryan, is a good provider, sometimes even kind and attentive, from a nice Irish family, and they have another baby on the way. But he also monitors Ciara's every move, flies into unpredictable rages where he convinces her she can do nothing right, and has isolated her from work, friends, and her beloved family.

Was fleeing the right thing to do? With no job and no support, Ciara struggles to provide a sense of normalcy for her little girls. Facing a broken housing system, they move into a hotel room on a floor reserved for women like her, eating takeout, washing their clothes in the bathroom sink, and building a community with the other residents. Ryan, meanwhile, wages a relentless campaign to win her back, and Ciara wavers. He never hit her, after all, and don't the girls need a stable home? 
For fans of Claire Keegan and Louise Kennedy, Roisín O'Donnell’s extraordinary debut creates a devastating and suspenseful portrait of gaslighting and emotional abuse—and even better, a triumphant story about family, love, and finding a new place to nest.

  • "Nesting is a perfect portrayal of the insidious nature of intimate partner abuse where the bruises are not physical, but violently emotional. I fell in love with the voice of Ciara as she sets out to create a new life against all odds for herself and her children. A story of bravery, love, and redemption, chock full of emotional suspense—I couldn't look away. A high-wire act of a debut."
    Chelsea Bieker, author of Madwoman and Godshot
  • "Such a moving, heartfilled, urgent book."
    Jan Carson, author of The Raptures
  • "O’Donnell tackles the unsettling cruelties and manipulations of coercive control with insight and emotional complexity. The voice is authentic, vivid and important. The final dedication to ‘anyone trapped in a place that does not feel like home’ says everything. Emotionally charged, psychologically nuanced and full of compassion and possibility, I read with my heart in my mouth."
    Una Mannion, bestselling author of Tell Me What I Am
  • "A dazzling debut, pin-sharp in its depiction of the insidious hooks of behind-closed-doors coercive control. O'Donnell handles her heroine's pain and potential power with nuanced, page-turning aplomb. I was gripped to the end."
    Cristín Leach, author of Negative Space
  • Previous Praise for Roisín O’Donnell:
    'A beautiful collection from an interesting new author who handles space and time – those two bugbears of the short-story writer – with uncanny ease, fluidity and absolute grace.'
    Irish Independent, on Wild Quiet

On Sale
Feb 18, 2025
Page Count
400 pages
Algonquin Books

Roisín O’Donnell

About the Author

Roisín O’Donnell’s short story "Sleep Watchers" was shortlisted for Short Story of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards this year. Her story, "How to Build a Space Rocket," won the same prize in 2018. She is the author of the collection Wild Quiet, published by New Island Books in 2016, which was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2017, listed in the Irish Times’ favorite books of 2016 and was shortlisted for the Kate O’Brien Award 2017 as well as the International Rubery Book Award. Her short fiction has featured in The Stinging Fly, The Tangerine, the Irish Times and many other places. Other stories have been selected for major anthologies such as The Long Gaze Back, and have featured on RTÉ Radio. Nesting is her first novel. She lives near Dublin with her two children.

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