These Days

Novels

Two sisters, four nights, one city.

April, 1941. Belfast has escaped the worst of the war – so far. Over the next two months, it’s going to be destroyed from above, so that people will say, in horror, My God, Belfast is finished.

Many won’t make it through, and no one who does will remain unchanged.

Following the lives of sisters Emma and Audrey – one engaged to be married, the other in a secret relationship with another woman – as they try to survive the horrors of the four nights of bombing which were the Belfast Blitz, These Days is a timeless and heart-breaking novel about living under duress, about family, and about how we try to stay true to ourselves.

These days will be published by Faber & Faber in March 2022


Praise for “These Days”

“[Caldwell] doesn’t describe characters: with great deftness she incarnates them on the page. There are few metaphors or similes. Empathy lights the words. t’s a Northern Ireland not often seen in novels, but Caldwell mines its bleakness for beauty.”
Joseph O’Connor, The Guardian (read full review)

“…the sumptuousness of the prose, the evocativeness of the descriptions and the fully realised characters, all of which make this a masterly achievement.”
Lara Feigel, Spectator (read full review)

“The centrepiece of the novel is, of course, in the horror of the Blitz. Caldwell is excellent at widening and narrowing her gaze, like the shutter of a camera opening and closing. Audrey’s walk across the city in the aftermath of the heaviest night of bombing gives us the widescreen view, and then short focus is provided with Caldwell’s excellent eye for the right detail: undertakers’ horses running wild through the streets; a volunteer in a market-turned-mortuary ‘chalking onto the sides of each coffin its contents’.”
John Self, The Critic (read full review)

“Caldwell’s writing, at such moments, is superlative. And it’s for her sure-footed and disturbingly intense recreation of a forgotten atrocity that These Days deserves to be read, and admired.”
Miranda Seymour, Financial Times (read full review)

“These Days is a beautiful homage to the city, its suffering and people. It is also an eloquent meditation on the transience of love and beauty, the fact that moments in time are all anyone ever has, until suddenly they stop.”
Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement (read full review)

“Caldwell has created a really beautiful novel here – an engrossing, evocative portrayal of the Belfast Blitz […] this is a beautiful, lyrical novel – a deeply moving tribute to the resilience of the Belfast people who lost and endured so much during the dark days of the Blitz.”
Jacqui Wine (read full review)

“Caldwell demonstrates a rare ability to combine the delicate with vivid depictions of total destruction. Different lives are woven together with delicacy and intelligence. Perhaps best known for her short stories, These Days shows Caldwell as a first-class novelist.”
Laura Marriott, Bookmunch (read full review)

‘A gem of a novel, I adored it.’
Marian Keyes

‘A novel of enormous heart; full of luminous passages of prose, this tale of the Belfast blitz is breathtakingly good.’
Alex Preston, Observer, Fiction to look out for in 2022

‘Meticulously researched, perfectly imagined, full of compassion and emotional truth.’
Clare Chambers

‘Adroit, precise storytelling, atmospheric and satisfying; These Days is a novel of real substance.’
Hilary Mantel

‘What a visceral, powerful, authentic novel! It’s hard to believe Lucy Caldwell didn’t actually live through the Belfast Blitz, it’s so accurately depicted. I felt I was there with the bombs, the blood, the chaos, the fear, and the resilience.’
Tracy Chevalier

‘Caldwell’s luminous novel presents a city under siege and a family in anguish. Her sense of life during wartime and her psychological portraiture cannot be faulted; the cumulative force of personal and public crisis will not be forgotten. This is storytelling of a vertiginously high order.’
Anthony Quinn

‘A captivating novel exploring a lesser known chapter of Northern Ireland’s story. Caldwell has managed to capture the spirit and tenacity of the Belfast I know and love. This is a novel which looks suffering straight in the eye and yet will leave you full of hope.’
Jan Carson

All The Beggars Riding

Novels

All The Beggars Riding book coverThe latest novel by Lucy Caldwell, “All the Beggars Riding”, published by Faber & Faber on February 7, was serialised on Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4 in March 2013, and chosen as both Irish Waterstone’s Book of the Month and Eason’s Bookclub Choice.

ABOUT THE BOOK

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. (Trad.)

When Lara was twelve, and her younger brother Alfie eight, their father died in a helicopter crash. A prominent plastic surgeon, and Irishman, he had honed his skills on the bomb victims of the Troubles. But the family grew up used to him being absent: he only came to London for two weekends a month to work at the Harley Street Clinic, where he met their mother years before, and they only once went on a family holiday together, to Spain, where their mother cried and their father lost his temper and left early.

Because home, for their father, wasn’t Earls Court: it was Belfast, where he led his other life . . . Narrated by Lara, nearing forty and nursing her dying mother, All the Beggars Riding is the heartbreaking portrait of a woman confronting her past.

PRAISE FOR “ALL THE BEGGARS RIDING”

“…the heartbreaking portrait of a woman confronting and trying to make sense of her past. While the story is gripping and raw, the structure is the most interesting thing about Caldwell’s creation – the book itself the talisman that anchors us in actuality. It’s a novel about writing, about telling other people’s stories as well as our own. […] Lyrical, involving and in a way upsetting…” (read the review)
Irish Independent

“All the Beggars Riding” … is often moving, and it succeeds at allowing us a peek at other, believable, fully realised lives. (read the review)
The Guardian

Listen to Lucy discussing “All the Beggars Riding”

The Meeting Point

Novels

The Meeting Point book coverWhen Euan and Ruth set off with their young daughter to live in Bahrain, it is meant to be an experience and adventure they will cherish. But on the night they arrive, Ruth discovers the truth behind the missionary work Euan has planned and feels her world start to crumble. Far from home, and with events spiralling towards war in nearby Iraq, she starts to question her faith – in Euan, in their marriage and in all she has held dear.

With Euan so often away, she is confined to their guarded compound with her neighbours and, in particular, Noor, a troubled teenager recently returned to Bahrain to live with her father. Confronted by temptations and doubt, each must make choices that could change all of their lives for ever. Compelling, passionate and deeply resonant, The Meeting Point is a novel about idealism and innocence, about the unexpected turns life can take and the dangers and chances that await us.

Lucy Caldwell’s haunting second novel… is compulsively readable. Its technical accomplishment, incrementally raising suspense, involving us in its characters’ desires and designs, attests to Caldwell’s skills as a playwright.
Stevie Davies, The Guardian(read more)

‘a beautifully written novel that manages to address the momentous subjects of love and loss, and faith and betrayal, with a calm and quiet grace.’
Lucy Scholes, Sunday Times. (read more)

‘Beautifully written, The Meeting Point is a passionate, sensitive exploration of the lies that make family life possible and the compromises contained in every expression of love’
Kate Williams, Financial Times(read more)

‘[a] beautifully controlled and finely crafted work…’
Ross Gilfillan, Daily Mail (read more)

‘The Meeting Point is a skilful piece of craftsmanship with an emotional charge that is both cathartic and moving. It will stay with you.’
Freya McClelland , Independent (read more)

The Furthest Distance

Novels

Lucy Caldwell’s novella, The Furthest Distance, was published on 27th November 2009 by Netherlea Press, the first in a series of novellas written about journeys within Ireland.

Synopsis

Summer 1978, and five-year-old Brooklyn is on her first trip to Northern Ireland. Her daddy’s happy to be going home. Her mommy’s not: she’s dreading going back to the place she’s tried her whole life to leave behind. The one thing they agree on is that the train journey from Belfast to Derry is the most beautiful you’ll ever make.

Just past Castlerock the train thunders between cliff and rocky shore and waves break right up against the tracks. The long journey is almost worth it for those moments alone, they tell her. But for Brooklyn, destined to spend intermittent summers travelling the same route with her mother’s frustrated feminism and her father’s unfulfilled dreams for stardom, the point of a journey is simply its destination. Until the day when a brief encounter sends her own life in a new direction…

The Furthest Distance is a sad, funny, moving meditation on the journeys we make and on how, finally, the furthest distances we travel are those between people.

Where They Were Missed

Novels

Where They Were Missed book cover“The back yard of Saorise and Daisy’s house can be a perilous place: boys from down the road leave unwelcome ‘presents’ at the gate, the girls’ father comes home late with a swollen jaw, and they have to rush indoors and shut the windows tight when marchers pass, even on the hottest day of the year. And while there is respite to be had at Antonini’s Ice Cream Parlour and in their mother’s bedtime stories, the walls of the house cannot protect this family for ever, and when a tragedy occurs at its heart the fragile ties that bind them together begin to break apart.

Ten years later in rural Ireland, Saoirse is building a new life for herself. She is dreaming again: of her prom night, of her future, and of the wayward but handsome Johnny Mahon. But, as she learns to her cost, she has still not fully escaped the fallout of that unforgettable Belfast summer a decade before. As her past, present and future become inextricably tangled, Saoirse is forced to confront her family’s demons, if she is ever to begin a new life of her own.

Where They Were Missed is a heartbreaking story of domestic tragedy and the loneliness of suffering. In a world where everyday violence taps on the surface of people’s lives, Lucy Caldwell evokes the pain of an incomprehensible loss, as she charts a young girl’s search for forgiveness.

Where They Were Missed was published by Viking in March 2006. It was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Waverton Good Read Award.

Praise for Where They Were Missed

Where They Were Missed is a work of the highest order: unsettling, unflinching, but finally uplifting. Lucy Caldwell’s touch is both fresh and assured. Here is a literary star in the making.
Glenn Patterson

A debut reminiscent of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden and Trezza Azzopardi’s The Hiding Place.
Vogue

I can think of few novels written by an author in her early twenties which are as accomplished as this one.
David Pierce, Irish Studies Around The World

It is difficult to do justice to the remarkable nature of this novel, so searing in its presentation of naked sorrow and so moving in the heroine’s courage.
Tablet

An assured and arresting tale… A heartbreaking and evocative story… A refreshingly different novel about the Northern tragedy and its ongoing effects on ordinary people.
Rowena Walsh, Irish Independent

A spirited work, for all its sadness, and written with insight and economy.
Patricia Craig, TLS

Excellent… all too believable.
Ireland on Sunday