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