Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize • Winner of the 2021 Kate O'Brien Award • Winner of the 2021 Dalkey Emerging Writer Award
Sinéad Hynes is a tough, driven, funny young property developer with a terrifying secret. No-one knows it: not her fellow patients in a failing hospital, and certainly not her family. She has confided only in Google and a shiny magpie. But she can't go on like this, tirelessly trying to outstrip her past and in mortal fear of her future. Across the ward, Margaret Rose is running her chaotic family from her rose-gold Nokia. In the neighbouring bed, Jane, rarely but piercingly lucid, is searching for a decent bra and for someone to listen. And Sinéad needs them both.
As You Were is about intimate histories, institutional failures, the kindness of strangers, and the darkly present past of modern Ireland; about women's stories and women's struggles; about seizing the moment to be free. Wildly funny, desperately tragic, inventive and irrepressible, As You Were introduces a brilliant voice in Irish fiction with a book that is absolutely of our times.
Praise for As You Were
"The novel reads almost like a humorous screen adaptation of an illness memoir, its gaze trained more on the lived experience inside a hospital than on looming death."
—New York Times
“A mighty, turbulent firestorm of a book, with a pulsing, rhythmic narrative voice. A compelling cast of characters with pitch perfect dialogue, it is tender, nuanced, forensically controlled and thrillingly unrestrained.”
—Jury Statement from the 2021 Dalkey Emerging Writer Award
"Feeney’s brilliant debut follows an Irish woman’s struggle to accept a terminal cancer diagnosis ... Feeney skillfully tells the stories of other patients, including Margaret Rose, recovering from a stroke, and Jane, suffering from dementia. In the closed space of the ward, these three women share their secrets ... Never sentimental, and full of well-crafted dialogue and rich descriptions, the story is driven forward by Sinéad’s strong narration. This powerful work perfectly balances tragedy and hope."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In a novel that paints a picture of modern Ireland that isn’t by Sally Rooney, women in an oncology ward come to terms with secrets, illnesses, and how to deal with their families through text and emoji-speak and existential humor. Perfect for Sad Girl Fall.”
"Funny, visceral, so well observed … I was blown away."
—Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain
"I read this in one gulp! FunnySadCuttingBadHistoryElatingLyrical (new word). #Ireland #hospitals um what else?"
—Margaret Atwood on Twitter
"An arresting debut."
"As You Were is an absolute tour de force: raw, sharp and wild. Elaine Feeney writes with such love for and understanding of her characters. It’s the literary equivalent of a stiff drink beside a warm fire: a book that will rattle you before it settles you."
—Lisa McInerney, author of The Rules of Revelation
"As You Were was just (effing) amazing. Brimful of brilliant characters what an exciting, visceral, poetic read. I adored the lack of sentimentality. Sinéad Hynes is complex and excellently realised a role model too, for I found her (sometime) selfishness thrillingly refreshing. As You Were gives permission to Irish women to put themselves first, and considering what we've come from, that's seismic. Elaine Feeney is such a talent. I LOVED it!"
—Marian Keyes, author of Grown Ups
"A truly original voice. Raw, urgent and uncompromising about the lengths we go to to conceal hurt, deception, psychic pain... A brilliant portrayal of the kindness of strangers, the kinship of women and the heartbreak of married love."
—Mary Costello, author of The River Factory
"The dialogue just crackles, the characters are so alive and real, there’s tragedy here, there’s comedy, there’s everything. It’s a really really fabulous book."
—Donal Ryan, author of Strange Flowers
"Comic, heartfelt and full of characters who walk off the page, it feels like Irish writing has been waiting a long time for a voice as unique and insistent as Elaine Feeney. A superb, unforgettable debut."
—Sinéad Gleeson, An Post Nonfiction Book of the Year-winning author of Constellations
"Riveting … I was exhilarated reading this."
—Roddy Doyle, winner of the Booker Prize, a BAFTA, and an Irish Pen Award
"An absolutely fabulous book."
—Kevin Barry, author of Night Boat to Tangier