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Julie Crowe, dressed in 19th Century costume, holding the novel. Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography
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Novel set in Ireland's 'year without a summer' chosen for One Dublin One Book

Everyone in Dublin is encouraged to read the book in April.

THE BOOK CHOSEN for One Dublin One Book 2023 has been named as The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes – and everyone in the city is invited to read the book in April.

The book was launched today by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, which also announced an accompanying programme of events. The Coroner’s Daughter follows on from Nora by Nuala O’Connor in 2022.

One Dublin One Book is an annual Dublin City Council initiative, supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, which is all about encouraging reading for pleasure. It aims to encourage everyone in Dublin to read a designated book connected with the capital city during the month of April.

Andrew Hughes said today that he is “so thrilled” that The Coroner’s Daughter has been chosen for this year’s One Dublin One Book. “The city has always been a huge source of inspiration, providing me with a setting and a cast of characters, and I love uncovering stories hidden in Dublin’s old houses,” he said. “Although I’m from Wexford, I went to college in the city and have lived in Drumcondra for more than 20  years. My extended family are Dubliners, so it’s a huge source of pride to have my book celebrated in this way. I sincerely hope readers enjoy following Abigail and her forensic investigations. I can’t wait for the events to begin in April.”

The book is set in 1816, which was known in Europe as the year without a summer – a rare climatic event brought frost to July, and a lingering fog was hanging over Dublin.

In the novel, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead.

When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the city coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.

OneDublinOneBook07 Author Andrew Hughes Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography / Fennell Photography

Andrew Hughes was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. A qualified archivist, he worked for RTÉ before going freelance. It was while researching his social history of Fitzwilliam Square – Lives Less Ordinary: Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Square, 1798-1922 – that he came across the true story of John Delahunt, a Victorian murderer and Dublin Castle informer.

This led to his debut novel, The Convictions of John Delahunt, which was shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Irish Crime Book of the Year. The Coroner’s Daughter was nominated for the CWA Historical Dagger. 

Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy, who launched the programme at Hugh Lane Gallery, said: “I’m a fan of the One Dublin One Book initiative inspiring people across the city to revel in the delights of reading every April. The canvas for this year’s selection is familiar city territory. Names may have changed but the buildings, squares and streets are still there, 200 years later.”

Meanwhile, Dublin City Librarian, Mairead Owens, said that The Coroner’s Daughter is a story “rooted in Dublin city of the early 19th Century with fascinating themes such as forensic science, religion, and the role of women in Ireland at the time”. 

Copies of The Coroner’s Daughter have been purchased by Dublin City Libraries and are available to borrow from all public libraries nationwide, and on e-book through the free BorrowBox library app. The e-audiobook will be available on 1 April via Borrowbox. The new One Dublin One Book edition of The Coroner’s Daughter is also available to buy from all good book shops.

The NCBI Library Access Service have created a Braille version of The Coroner’s Daughter. This title is also available in fully accessible digital formats (EPUB, BRF, DAISY and Word) from the NCBI Bookshare Ireland platform.

Events

To celebrate, there will also be free events throughout April including discussions, talks, walks, readings, music performances, book club events in various venues across the city as well as in Dublin City Libraries, DLR Libraries, Fingal Libraries, South Dublin Libraries.

A special event by Wexford County Council Library Service will take place on 6 April. There will also be One Dublin One Book online events with the Irish Embassy in Warsaw and Vancouver. 

Among the free events will be The Coroner’s Daughter: A Celebration, on Thursday 20 April at 7pm in the Hugh Lane Gallery. Niall MacMonagle will be in conversation with Andrew Hughes to discuss his journey from archivist to writer of historical fiction, and to explore the themes, settings, and characters of his novels The Coroner’s Daughter and The Convictions of John Delahunt.

The night will include dramatised readings from The Coroner’s Daughter by actors Julie Crowe and Shane O’Regan, as well as music from the 19th century performed by the Dublin String Quartet.

 To find out more about all the events, visit the One Dublin One Book website

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