Sue Hubbard
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  • Paperback
11 Jan 2018
  • Fiction
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Award-winning writer Sue Hubbard delivers a poignant story of transformation, conjuring the rugged beauty of County Kerry's coastline.

Newly widowed, Martha Cassidy has returned to a remote cottage in a virtually abandoned village on the west coast of Ireland for reasons even she is uncertain of. Looking out from her window towards the dramatic rise of the Skelligs across the water, she reflects on the loss of Brendan, her husband and charming curator, his death stirring unresolved heartache from years gone by. Alone on the windswept headland, surrounded by miles of cold sea, the past closes in.

As the days unfold, Martha searches for a way forward beyond grief, but finds herself drawn into a standoff between the entrepreneur Eugene Riordan and local hill farmer Paddy O'Connell. While the tension between them builds to a crisis that leaves Paddy in hospital, Martha encounters Colm, a talented but much younger musician and poet. Caught between its history and its future, the Celtic Tiger reels with change, and Martha faces redemptive choices that will change her life forever.


‘An elegiac story of loss and valediction... Woolfian echoes and quotations pulse through Rainsongs, haunting the reader with the ubiquity of mother love and longing’ Stevie Davis, Guardian

‘A wool-soaked odyssey on the Iveragh peninsula – I could feel and smell the rain all the way through, and when the sun broke in now and then, I felt that too… Hubbard’s precise descriptions of the physical landscape are tremendous and moving. There is a real sense of Kerry here… empathy with Irish people past and present permeates her solitary adventure’ The Irish Times

‘A beautifully-written meditation on love, loss and grief… all three reverberate throughout this erudite book, which maps the physical, emotional and cultural landscape of West Kerry’ Irish Independent

'A compelling story, freighted with heartbreak and loss’ Shena Mackay

‘A beautifully-written and evocative novel about grief and greed, art and life, isolation and emotion’ Amanda Craig

'A lyrical evocation of Ireland's fragile, ancient coastline reveals a poet's sensibility. This multi-layered story of love and loss, of a woman 'erased by grief', who finds solace in the heart of a community that is threatened from within, is exceptionally moving. This book will stay with you' Eleanor Fitzsimons 

'Has a unique and beautiful emotive quality that shines through its delicately constructed prose in a love-letter to Ireland, memory and parenthood, taking advantage of its mature narrator to speak with resonance and depth. In a contemporary world of instant connections, Rainsongs returns to an age just prior to the boom of social media – 2007 – in an exploration of what it means to be truly alone... champions the role of literature in an increasingly disconnected modern world' London Magazine 

'A ravishing tale of an emotional journey in the wild beauty of Ireland... Read this book for the delicacy of its central story , the sheer delight of being led into the drama of this edge of the world with its landscape beaten by hectic weather and lit by unfiltered sunlight, and for the pleasure of Hubbard’s intensely honed, sharply insightful story-telling'  Angela Neustatter

'A gently absorbing novel... wistful but never morose - tugging the heartstrings without milking the double bereavement at the novel’s heart' Daily Mail

'A lovely, vividly transporting novel... full of history and poetry, art and psychology, but their touch is light; intensely felt and focused, but kaleidoscopic, not confined – an unusual and absorbing read' Shiny New Books

‘A subtle, moving exploration of love, loss and parenthood [which] conveys the bleak, rain-swept landscape of County Kerry so vividly that it almost feels like another character in its own right... Rainsongs aches with loneliness and sadness, yet Hubbard’s finely crafted prose makes for a deeply pleasurable read’ Sipora Levy, The Jewish Chronicle


‘A remarkable first novel’ John Berger

‘A writer of genuine talent’ Elaine Feinstein

‘Lyrical, highly visual and beautifully observed’ John Burnside

‘Beautifully written and wholly knowledgeable. You are the less for not reading it’ Fay Weldon

Sue Hubbard

About Sue Hubbard

Sue Hubbard is an art critic, novelist and poet who has written regularly for a wide range of publications including the New Statesman and The Independent, as well as for The Sunday Times and Observer. She has contributed to many arts programmes, such as Kaleidoscope and Night Waves.

Twice winner of the London Writers’ Award, her poems have been read on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and she is well known for her poem Eurydice – London’s largest public art poem –  which stretches across Waterloo station, made possible by a grant from BFI and The Art’s Council. Rainsongs is her third novel.