“A stunning debut from this new Irish talent.”


Holding Her Breath is a remarkable and relatable debut from Eimear Ryan. A contemporary novel, it tells the story of Beth Crowe , a young woman starting her study of psychology at Trinity College Dublin. A little older than most of her classmates, Beth is looking forward to experiencing a more normal student life, having taken some time out after a crisis that saw her scupper her dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. Keen to build a new life for herself she moves into campus accommodation and soon forms a friendship with her new roommate.

Beth’s grandfather was a renowned poet, whose work was studied in classrooms the length and breadth of the country, but he died before she was born. The shadow of his death and the events that led up to it has hung over Beth’s family for years. When Beth meets Justin, a post- doc from the English department, she is drawn into an illicit relationship that sparks her curiosity about her family history, and leads her to uncover a truth that explains a lot about her family’s silence over the years.

This is a really compelling read, I was completely invested in the character of Eimear, and her fascinating family, particularly her wise and acerbic grandmother. I found her struggles to adjust to her new life completely believable , and loved the dynamic between her and Sadie , her chalk and cheese roommate. The backstory of the family history was interesting, and really well woven into the main storyline.
The pacing is gentle but the book still flows well, and I never lost interest in the story being told.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the Publisher, all opinions are my own.


Reviewed by:

Annette Jordan

Added 4th August 2021

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Annette Jordan