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With My Lazy Eye, By Julia Kelly

Its publishers clearly didn't know whether to market this tale by the Dublin-born Julia Kelly as a literary Bildungsroman or a chick-lit extravaganza. The cover comes with a quote from Ireland's chick-lit princess Cecelia Ahern, but inside is an endorsement from John Banville, comparing Kelly to Edna O'Brien, no less. The cover design, too, suggests something light and frothy, yet the first page alerts us to a different kind of writing altogether: full of twists and turns, it never settles, demanding that its focus on detail be rewarded by the reader's full attention.

Lucy is a highly intelligent young girl conscious of her lazy eye, which makes her look strange, who is growing up in a shabby-genteel, middle-class home, headed by her absent-minded professor father and endlessly capable mother. The slightly cutesy tone in which her teenage misdemeanours are confided to us has something much sharper underlying it, which only becomes clear when Lucy experiences the death of her father.

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