Academy Street is the heart-breaking and evocative story of one woman’s life spanning six decades. Tess’s childhood in 1940’s rural Ireland is defined by the sudden death of her mother. Later, in New York, she encounters the ferocious power and calamity of love, and the effects of catastrophic fate. The novel resonates with the rhythms of memory and home as well as those of America’s greatest city.
This is an intimate story about unexpected gifts and unbearable losses, and the perpetual ache for belonging. It is exquisitely written and profoundly moving.
‘With extraordinary devotion, Mary Costello brings to life a woman who would otherwise have faded into oblivion amid the legions of the meek and the unobtrusive.’
‘I read Academy Street cover to cover in one night, unable to stop. It is a short novel about a long life, stretching from rural Ireland to post-9/11 New York, and brings to mind the elegance of Colm Toibin and the insight of Alice Munro. Its stealthy, quiet power will exert a hold over any reader.’
‘Intensely moving but never sentimental, Academy Street is a profound meditation on what Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.” In Tess Lohan, Mary Costello has created one of the most fully realized characters in contemporary fiction. What a marvel of a book.’
‘To recount a life story in a novel is a difficult task. To do so with brevity and unsentimental honesty takes greatness. A powerful and emotional novel from one of literature’s finest new voices.’
‘This lightly handled sadness is typical of Costello…she has hammered her writing—deceptively simple, tonally flat—into a dark, strong book. To call it restrained is to understate both the turbulence buried within the novel and the control with which it’s conveyed.’
‘Academy Street covers a great deal of time—nearly a lifetime, in fact—but is never overwhelmed by its scope. Half the fun is seeing what Costello will choose to focus on and what she’ll choose to elide…the handling of time is fluid and cumulatively devastating.’
‘In fewer than 200 pages, [Costello] takes us through six decades of a woman’s life, profoundly and satisfyingly. The opening chapters, with a child’s-eye perspective of loss, are especially acute. Academy Street is an elegant and insightful piece of writing.’
‘Skilled, observant, and empathetic, Mary Costello chronicles the specific and telling details of everyday lives in pivotal circumstances, and captures human yearning at its most instructive and affecting.’
‘Costello imbues lyricism into each sentence of her carefully constructed prose.’