The Official Synopsis:
Biddy Weir is a shy young loner. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, and with a father who’s not quite equipped for the challenges of modern parenting, Biddy lives in her own little world, happy to pass her time painting by the sea and watching the birds go by.
With no friends, no schoolbag, and, worst of all, no mother, Biddy is branded a ‘Bloody Weirdo’ by the most popular girl in her primary school.
What follows is a heart-breaking tale of bullying and redemption, of falling down and of starting again, and of one woman’s battle to learn to love herself for who she is.
Set in a fictional seaside town in Northern Ireland, the novel is a stark illustration of the extent to which bullying can affect us all, beyond just the victim and perpetrator.
Spare, dark and often unrelenting, The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is a story with universal appeal, which ultimately affirms the value of being different.
Book Rating: 9/10
Haunting, heartbreakingly poignant, and exceptionally thought-provoking!
This is an incredibly intriguing novel that delves into the emotional and physical suffering experienced when targeted, ostracized and bullied from an early age, and reminds us how hostile, cruel and passive children can sometimes be.
The prose is eloquent and expressive. The main character, Biddy, is multi-layered, unique, wounded, naive, and endearing. And the plot is thoroughly captivating and engrossing as it sweeps you along through the highs and lows of Biddy’s life effortlessly.
This is, ultimately, a deeply moving, remarkable story about loneliness, torment, injustice, diffidence, family, friendship, and self-love that will make you cry; make you smile; and will resonate with you long after the final page has been turned.
Thank you to twenty7 – Bonnier Zaffre and Lesley Allen for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It was a real pleasure and honour to read.
About the Author
Lesley Allen lives in Bangor, County Down. She is a freelance copywriter and the press officer and assistant programme developer for Open House Festival. Lesley is previous recipient of the James Kilfedder Memorial Bursary, and two Support for the Individual Artist Art’s Council Awards. She was named as one of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2016 Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) recipients for literature. She will be using the award to complete her second book.
And what does a “Writing Day” look like for Leslie Allen?
My dream average writing day would go something like this: rise at seven to a glorious, gently warm, blue-sky day, preferably on a Greek Island. A sea view would be good. I’d do a few yoga stretches out on the terrace to the sound of the goats softly bleating on the hill behind, followed by a healthy breakfast of my own homemade muesli with peaches from my neighbour’s orchard, local honey, and fresh yoghurt made by the goat herder who lives down the road. After a cup of green tea, I’d retire to my zen-zone office – whitewashed walls, blue shuttered windows that overlook the matching blue Aegean, a simple wooden writing desk that once belonged to a famous Greek author, and a chair specially made for me by the local (very handsome) carpenter. I’d bash out a few hundred words, hell, let’s make it 1,000, before breaking for a jog on the beach…
The reality is somewhat different. I do rise at seven, but I live in Northern Ireland, so the warm, blue-sky day thing only happens twice a year. Three times if we’re lucky. In my head I’m a yoga girl – but I tried it once, and my dodgy knees couldn’t hack it. I like the idea of muesli but I just can’t do currants, and green tea makes me gag. My office at the top of the house is a tip – well, not quite a tip, but it hasn’t been painted since I moved here two years ago, and still serves as the ‘if you don’t know where to put it dump it in there’ room. The desk is ugly and bulky, and the chair used to belong to my ex-husband. I get wind just sitting in it. And I can’t jog the length of myself.
As for the 1,000 words – when I do get full days to dedicate to writing (which are rare in between juggling work as a freelance copywriter & press officer, being a single mum, keeping a feral cat in line, trying to learn the words ‘sorry, I can’t do that today, I’m writing’, and cleaning toilets – the curse of the procrastinator) they usually do flow with relative ease. But, basically, no day in my life is average, never mind a writing one. I’m going to hold onto that dream writing day on my Greek island though, as I know for a fact that dreams really can come true. As I type this at my ugly desk, sitting in the chair that gives me wind, the most beautiful thing in the world (apart, of course, from my daughter – just in case she reads this!) is propped up right beside my laptop: my very own copy of my very own book. It took a while, but that dream came true, so why not the Greek one! In the meantime, I’m happy with my lot. I have a book, I have the tools to write another one, and I even have a sea view. It’s more of a grey-green than a deep blue one, but I love it.
It’s probably time to buy a new chair, though.
This novel is due to be published in paperback on November 3, 2016.
Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.
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