The Joyce Girl (spoiler free) Review

“Dancing is more honest than words.”

-Annabel Abbs, The Joyce Girl.


Guys. GUYS. If you love historical fiction, books set in Paris and/or the roaring twenties, complete with flapper dresses, pears and feathers, literary references, dancing and a slice of psychoanalysis, then THIS is the book for you…


Set in Avant-garde Paris, in the 20’s, The Joyce Girl focuses on Lucia Joyce, talented dancer and daughter of the famous James Joyce, author of the controversial book Ulysses.

Where to begin?

This book left me stunned that it was a debut novel. It’s eloquently written, impeccably well-researched and executed in a way that reeled me in from the first line and has left the characters wandering about in my head ever since.

Following Lucia’s burning desire to fulfill her immense potential as a dancer, The Joyce Girl takes us through her ambition, her falling in love with Samuel Beckett and the gentle unravelling of Lucia herself.

Cut in between her life in Paris, are chapters set in Zurich, in 1934 where Lucia has been sent by her father to the psychoanalyst Carl Jung after her life shattered and fell apart. She has kept quiet for years. The book opens with her deciding to speak and tell her story….

I loved how Annabel Abbs wrote the complex character of Lucia in such a beautiful way that I was kept constantly rooting for her throughout the book, captivated by every moment in this mesmerising novelisation of Lucia Joyce’s life.

Well deserving of 5/5 stars, The Joyce Girl has leapt into my top ten favourite historical fiction books with as much energy as one of Lucia’s vividly alive dances.


“…Into the clean shining light of a day so bright with promise I whirled and spun all the way to my dance class.”

– Annabel Abbs, The Joyce Girl.

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