The Joyce Girl: A Novel of Jazz Age Paris (Paperback)

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“Abbs has found a gripping and little-known story at the heart of one of the 20th century’s most astonishing creative moments, researched it deeply, and brought the extraordinary Joyce family and their circle in 1920s Paris to richly-imagined life.”—Emma Darwin, bestselling author of A Secret Alchemy and The Mathematics of Love

For readers who adored novels like The Paris WifeZ, and Loving Frank, comes Annabel Abbs highly praised debut novel, where she spins the story of James Joyce’s fascinating, and tragic, daughter, Lucia. 

“When she reaches her full capacity for rhythmic dancing, James Joyce may yet be known as his daughter’s father . . .” 

The review in the Paris Times in November 1928 is rapturous in its praise of Lucia Joyce’s skill and artistry as a dancer. The family has made their home in Paris—where the latest ideas in art, music, and literature converge. Acolytes regularly visit the Joyce apartment to pay homage to Ireland’s exiled literary genius. Among them is a tall, thin young man named Samuel Beckett—a fellow Irish expat who idolizes Joyce and with whom Lucia becomes romantically involved. 

Lucia is both gifted and motivated, training tirelessly with some of the finest teachers in the world. Though her father delights in his daughter’s talent, she clashes with her mother, Nora. And as her relationship with Beckett sours, Lucia’s dreams unravel, as does her hope of a life beyond her father’s shadow. 

With Lucia’s behavior growing increasingly erratic, James Joyce sends her to pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Here, at last, she will tell her own story—a fascinating, heartbreaking account of thwarted ambition, passionate creativity, and the power of love to both inspire and destroy. 

The Joyce Girl creates a compelling and moving account of the real-life Joyce Girl, of unrealized dreams and rejection, and of the destructive love of a father.

About the Author


Annabel Abbs grew up in Wales and Sussex, with stints in Dorset, Bristol and Hereford. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of East Anglia and a Masters in Marketing from the University of Kingston. After fifteen years running a consultancy, she took a career break to bring up her four children, before returning to her first love, literature.

Her debut novel, The Joyce Girl, won the 2015 Impress Prize for New Writing and the 2015 Spotlight First Novel Award, and was longlisted for the 2015 Caledonia Novel Award and the 2015 Bath Novel Award. Her short stories and journalism have appeared in various places including Mslexia, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Weekend Australian Review, Elle, The Author, The Daily Telegraph, Psychologies and the Huffington Post. She has been profiled in Writing Magazine, Sussex Life, Next NZ, Litro and Female First. Her blog, www.kaleandcocoa.com, was featured in the Daily Telegraph in August 2015 and May 2016.

She lives in London and Sussex with her family and an old labrador. Annabel tweets (sporadically) on books, writing and the arts at @annabelabbs.

Praise For…


"Brings to life 1920s Paris excitingly and beautifully...I loved Lucia's character."
— Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author The Paris Orphan

“Here is Lucia Joyce, vibrant, passionate and alive, telling her own story. Profoundly moved by Lucia’s tragic life, Abbs has crafted a moving tale of thwarted ambition and personal tragedy.”
— Mary Talbot, award-winning author of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes

“Abbs has found a gripping and little-known story at the heart of one of the 20th century’s most astonishing creative moments, researched it deeply, and brought the extraordinary Joyce family and their circle in 1920s Paris to richly-imagined life.”
— Emma Darwin, bestselling author of A Secret Alchemy and The Mathematics of Love

"Annabel Abb's novel about James Joyce's daughter is an unforgettable and daring look at a time and place when everything seems possible...This is a rich, gorgeous novel of the Jazz Age and a woman's struggle to escape the boundaries imposed by the men in her life. A must-read!"
— Jeanne Mackin, acclaimed author of The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel

“A captivating debut about love, creativity, and living in the shadow of a genius. Abbs recreates the extraordinary story of Lucia—James Joyce’s daughter and gifted dancer in her own right—in language as sensuous and richly alive as Lucia’s dancing.”
— Louisa Treger, author of The Dragon Lady and The Lodger

"A mesmerizing story with characters that leap off the page. Brilliantly written and so authentically imagined it left me wiping my tears...A masterpiece!"
— Lyn G. Farrell, award winning author The Wacky Man

“Annabel Abbs weaves a powerful, spellbinding and illuminating story of a woman who has been, until now, relegated to a historical footnote.”
— Clare Pooley, author of The Authenticity Project

"Here is a powerful portrait of a young woman yearning to be an artist, whose passion for life—and rage at being unable to fulfill her talent—burns from the pages."
— Observer (UK)

"This intimate and absolutely splendid novel must top my recommendations as the best twenty-century fiction of the year."
— Historical Novel Society

"One of the those hidden gems of a novel...both sad and enthralling."
— New Books (UK)

"A haunting piece of historical fiction."
— The Mitford Society


Product Details
ISBN: 9780062912879
ISBN-10: 0062912879
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Pages: 480
Language: English