The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs
The Joyce Girl
Writing a fictionalised story of Lucia Joyce is a challenge; James Joyce’s tragic daughter was the subject of a thorough biography by Carol Loeb Schloss and her story is familiar. Abbs shows affection for Lucia in her debut novel, sympathetically reimagining her coping badly with events that cause feelings of betrayal and humiliation, possibly leading to her “madness”. We are led into the story via sessions with psychoanalyst Carl Jung in Zurich, where Lucia recalls her traumatic, nomadic childhood, her attempts to escape a claustrophobic family and striving to bring her own artistic expression to life through dance. She falls in love with Samuel Beckett and sculptor Alexander Calder, but is abandoned by both, sending her into temporary mania and, sometimes, catatonia. Finally, it is her parents’ confession to being unmarried, and their perverse titillation at their media-stalked wedding in London, that sees Lucia giving in to the unnamed power that drives her, eventually losing control of her own destiny.