Karen Gillece

Life
b. Dublin; former IT project manager; took creative writing course in Writers’ Centre, Dublin; contrib. to The Stinging Fly; shortlisted for Sunday Tribune/Hennessy Prize, 2001; studied Spanish at Cervantes Inst., Dublin, her teacher being from Zaragoza nr. Barcelona, which she shortly travelled; issued Seven Nights in Zaragoza (2005), a study of a young married couple (Elena and Henry) in crisis when Henry makes a bad investment and Elena remeets an old flame Adam; currently working on novel based on S. American travels; served by lit. agent Faith O’Grady [2005]; also Longshore Drift (2006), and My Glass Heart (2007), her third novel, concerning the consequences of an attack on the heroine and the subsequent trial and unravelling of her marriage.

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Works
Seven Nights in Zaragoza (London: Hodder Headline 2005); Longshore Drift (London: Hodder Headline 2006), 301pp.; My Glass Heart (London: Hodder 2007), 288pp. Also “Hair” in Ciara Considine, ed., Moments [Tsunami relief collection] (Clé 2005), q.pp.

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Criticism
Shirley Kelly, Interview article, Books Ireland (March 2005), p.39; also Sue Leonard, review of Seven Nights in Zaragoza,in Books Ireland (March 2005), p.49.

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Commentary
Clair Looby, ‘Getting to the core of the crystal’, review of My Glass Heart, in The Irish Times (3 March 2007), Weekend, p.11: ‘Sometimes a story grabs you by the throat and hauls you into the middle of someone’s disintegrating life [...] We first meet Helen Glass as the victim attending the trial of her attacker, Keith Donovan, a young man who, despite his disarming appearance, proves to be a manipulative and dangerously unstable personality. Reuben Ford, the narrator and Helen’s friend as she faces the ordeal of reliving the terrible months of fear and betrayal leading up to the near-fatal attack, is a failing playwright. He is driven to find new success in his novelisation of Helen and her husband William’s life, without their knowledge. It’s not long before we realise that obsession and betrayal are not confined to the man in the dock. With the relish of a privileged confidante, Reuben lays out Helen and William’s unexceptional relationship and the life they enjoyed until Donovan’s arrival. So close is Reuben’s relationship with Helen that we wonder if he, like Donovan, could be in love with her, until he reveals his own betrayal of another, which has led to his current shame and state of self-imposed isolation. Because the story is told at times in the past tense, at times in the present, there is a risk the reader will become removed from the emotional core, the unexpressed fears and desperation which drive all of the characters at some time or another.’ Remarks adversely on a slight ‘tendency to accentuate the cerebral rather than the raw emotional thrust of the tale.’

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