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An exquisite, heart-breaking novel by an Irish discovery

On a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon, Michael and Caitlin escape their unhappy marriages to keep an illicit rendez-vous. Once a month, for the past quarter of a century, Coney Island has been their haven.

These precious, hidden hours are their only nourishment. But now, amid the howling of an angry snowstorm, the shut-down, out-of-season resort feels like the edge of the world. And their lives, suddenly, are on the brink – with news of serious illness on one side, and a move to the Midwest on the other. And so, after half a lifetime spent in secret, certain long-avoided facts need to be faced, consequences examined, decisions made, and – perhaps – chances finally taken.

A quiet, intense drama of late-flowering intimacy, My Coney Island Baby condenses, within the course of a single day, the histories, landscapes, tragedies and moments of wonder that constitute the lives of two people who, although born worlds apart, have been drawn together.

O’Callaghan, a masterful prose stylist, has created a devastatingly powerful novel about two unforgettable characters and the choices they have made. This is a book full of sorrow, but also radiant with beauty, longing and breathless desire.

Reviews

A poignant, piercing meditation on middle age and the passing of time… these characters will linger with you long after the book is closed.

Claire Kilroy, Guardian

O’Callaghan [has made a] significant achievement in this fine novel… Good books remind us of other good books and in its treatment of adultery this one calls to mind thematic ancestors such as Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and The Scarlet Letter.

Bert Wright, Sunday Times

My Coney Island Baby is that rare thing: a love story that manages to be romantic and realistic… Billy O’Callaghan describes their love with a truthfulness that is often heart-rending... [his writing] demands to be taken slowly and savoured.

Kate Saunders, The Times

Like a modern-day Lady Chatterley's Lover... There is much to savour in [My Coney Island Baby].

James Moran, The Tablet, *Book of the Week*

A tender, slow-burning depiction of love. This is a powerful must-read.

Jennifer McShane, Image Magazine

Quiet, subtle and deeply moving… This is a fine novel, with elegance and wisdom lying beneath an unpretentious surface and O’Callaghan, a gifted writer, has managed to do that most difficult of things: take a quiet, almost everyday story and transform it into a thing of beauty.

John Boyne, Irish Times

This is not an epic novel. There are no heroes. It is the story of two ordinary people trapped in their ordinary lives. But in the hands of O’Callaghan it is magnified to the truly extraordinary. A great tragedy. I long thought Anita Brookner the high priestess when it comes to telling the tales of loneliness and defeat. But she’s now got company.

Sunday Independent

Imbued with poignancy and portent… [My Coney Island Baby] is redolent of Bernard MacLaverty’s The Bleak Midwinter, with its dissection of a relationship, and the weight, physical and otherwise, of growing old.

Donal O’Donoghue, RTE Guide

Intensely romantic… [Billy O’Callaghan] is a writer who has an unyielding faith in the strength and vitality of language to convey the emotions and the physical world. In this sense, he is old-fashioned, straight out of the much-neglected D.H. Lawrence school of writing… he is also a writer who knows how to control his characters, his narrative, and… his voice. That’s what counts, and it’s what makes My Coney Island Baby such a good novel.

Nick Major, Herald Scotland

With poeticism and aching sensitivity, O’Callaghan unknots the minute workings of these starved adulterous souls… images rendered here stick with you, such is the intensity that they shimmer with.

Irish Independent

[O’Callaghan’s] narrative skilfully zooms in and out, circulating from their Coney Island hotel room to the lives they have left behind.

Sophie Ratcliffe, Daily Telegraph

Vividly rendered… O’Callaghan excels at painting a portrait of physical and emotional isolation.

Publishers Weekly

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781787331341

    January 22, 2019

    Jonathan Cape

    256 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Hardback

    9781787330917

    January 15, 2019

    Jonathan Cape

    256 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook

    9781473558489

    January 17, 2019

    Vintage Digital

    256 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ