If you have a poetic soul, or love Celtic literature and/or have a penchant for stories about orphans as I do, I hope you find time to settle down with GIRL ON THE LEESIDE by Kathleen Anne Kenney.
Siobhan Doyle is the girl in question. Orphaned at the age of two under dramatic circumstances, she counts herself lucky to have been taken in by her Uncle Kee. They live in rural western Ireland, near a long narrow bay which lends Siobhan respite from her work at the family pub, the Leeside.
Now age twenty-seven, Siobhan left school at sixteen. She had no interest in college. Yet being an autodidactic, and echoing her uncle’s devotion to studying Celtic literature, Siobhan is well-read. She also secretly writes epic poetry. What a reclusive waif Siobhan is, almost fairylike and dainty. Sometimes her shyness swells up and swallows her.
When a literature professor from America comes to the Leeside to interview Uncle Kee, he soon realizes Siobhan is also a person of literary substance. She wants to show him her poems. She finds talking to the professor to be soul-stirring, and yet her feelings for him upset her. A stranger from her mother’s past also shows up at the Leeside. Both of these men come to matter greatly to Siobhan.
Thank goodness Siobhan seeks out the company of women in order to understand her growing pains. Her best friend Maura gives her wise counsel, as does a grandmotherly traveler who visits the Leeside yearly in her brightly painted caravan. Siobhan also finds new respect for Katie, her uncle’s girlfriend who she used to dislike.
I enjoyed the stanzas of poetry the author added to the beginning of each chapter. The author’s ability to create sensitive, caring characters is impressive. I cared deeply for Siobhan and held my breath every time she teetered on the edge of life-altering choices. Watching her bloom was a privilege. For me, this was an altogether enchanting novel!
Keddy Ann Outlaw
A librarian for nearly 30 years, Keddy is also a veteran reviewer for Library Journal. Formerly an art major, she’s now busy making mixed media collages, prints and assemblages, and posting as “The Lone Star Librarian” on her website, Speed of Light.