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A Restless Life

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  • “The writing frequently approaches the brooding power of William Faulkner.” —Irish Literary Supplement
  • “Leland's extraordinarily vivid and immediate memoir . . . is not just a great read. It is also a valuable record of the kind of narrow, choked circumstances faced by so many women [who are] lacking power.” —Sunday Independent
  • “Light-hearted and continually sardonic at her own expense, Bardwell portrays herself as the tortured but obstinately wry outsider. . . . She emerges at the close of this turbulent, curious memoir as a self-possessed and resourceful literary survivor.” —Tom F. Wright, Times Literary Supplement
  • ”I was recommended A Restless Life by my sister and it blew me away. Leland Bardwell's story is a ground-breaking commentary on recent Irish history: things we all guessed must have happened, but never really heard about. Her honesty is astounding. . . . A Restless Life could be the story of thousands of Irish women whose talents were stifled by the religious, political and social constraints of the times. . . . Highly, highly recommended.” —-Labhaoise Molony
  • ”As well as being a pastoral tale of adolescence, adulthood, travel, writing, infatuation and divorce, there are very entertaining thumbnail sketches of people like Paddy Kavanagh (whom Leland knew well) and the equally eccentric John Jordan, one of the great forgotten men of Irish letters.” —Books Ireland

Meet The Author

Leland Bardwell was born in India, grew up in Leixlip and was educated in Dublin and London. She wrote five novels, including Mother to a Stranger and The Girl on the Bicycle, as well as a volume of short stories, Different Kinds of Love. As a playwright, she has had work produced by RTÉ and the BBC, and her stage credits include No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf and Jocasta. Since her first collection of poems, The Mad Cyclist, appeared in 1970, she published four further collections. A co-editor of the long-running literary magazine Cyphers, Leland Bardwell died in 2016.

This no-holds-barred account of Leland Bardwell’s life spans five decades and unveils the shroud of innocence that often clouds our vision of the past. Bardwell confronts her life head on, confessing bygone sins and exorcising old demons. However, despite the hardships of her life, this is far from a misery memoir: A Restless Life celebrates the artistic, and often times anarchistic, life of one of Ireland’s hidden literary treasures.

As a young girl, Leland returned with her family from India to live in Leixlip, County Kildare, where she fell madly in love with her father’s cousin. An unplanned pregnancy brings her to a war-torn London, where her son is adopted. Accumulating lovers and children over the years, she becomes a teacher in the highlands of Scotland, and a paper-seller on the street-corners of Paris, before returning to Dublin. Here, she struggles to combine motherhood with artistic expression, as well as juggle her various affairs, both official and illicit.

Ostracised by her family, her tiny flat on Leeson Street becomes a refuge for writers, artists, eccentrics, and the drunken literary crew of McDaid’s pub. It is in this melee that she first beds and then befriends Patrick Kavanagh, in what is a humorous and affectionate portrait of one of Ireland’s best-loved poets. The heartbreak, mayhem, and comedy of those years is told with a raw but poetic honesty. A searing and raunchy memoir, A Restless Life is the fascinating story of an extraordinary Irish woman.

Weight 0.439 kg
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