The Closet of Savage Mementos, by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

This month’s Irish Times Book Club choice is a moving, beautifully written portrait of love, grief and motherhood

This month's Book Club choice is The Closet of Savage Mementos by Nuala Ní Chonchúir, published by New Island.

Lillis leaves behind 1980s Dublin for a summer job working at a lodge in a small lochside village in the Scottish Highlands. Leaving Dublin is a way to escape her grief following the death of her boyfriend and a difficult relationship with her mother, Verity. In Scotland she encounters love and excitement but when a series of unexpected events turn her new found life on its head, she is forced to make a life-changing decision.

The Closet of Savage Mementos is drawn directly from the author's own experiences and explores heartbreak, loss, motherhood and adoption in a gripping narrative.

Reviewing the book for The Irish Times, Sarah Gilmartin wrote: "The past is ever present in ... a moving and beautifully written portrait of death, grief and motherhood. Artistic, volatile, alcoholic Verity may well hate the fact that her daughter reminds her of herself, but it is nothing compared to Lillis Yourell's fear of turning into her mother. This dread of repeating cycles, of handing down the misery, is at the heart of a narrative full of difficult characters trying desperately to love each other."


The Closet of Savage Mementos, read by Catriona Ní Mhurchu, was this week's Book on One on RTÉ Radio. You can listen to it here for the next three weeks.

Born in Dublin in 1970, Ní Chonchúir has published two novels, four collections of short fiction, a chapbook of flash fiction and three full poetry collections. Her third novel, Miss Emily, about poet Emily Dickinson’s Irish maid, will be published by Penguin next year under her birth name, Nuala O’Connor.

She has also been nominated for the Laureate for Irish Fiction, which will be announced next month.

She holds a BA in Irish from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in Translation Studies (Irish/English) from Dublin City University. She has worked as an arts administrator in theatre and in a writers’ centre; as a translator, as a bookseller and also in a university library. Nuala teaches occasional creative writing courses. For the last four years has been fiction mentor to third year students on the BA in Writing at NUI Galway. She lives in Co Galway with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website to learn more about her work.

Join us again next Friday for the next instalment of the Irish Times Book Club.