Books

The Springs of Affection by Maeve Brennan: A fabulous reissue

Maeve Brennan's rehabilitation as an Irish writer of note is long overdue. This re-release brings her sparkling words to a new audience.

The Springs of Affection book cover

Maeve Brennan is something of a legendary figure, though she’d be the last to know that. When she died in 1993 she had fully succumbed to her demons. Destitute and broke, she was a completely forgotten woman. It would have been hard to convince anyone that she was the same Maeve Brennan of The New Yorker, the extremely glamorous social diarist who lampooned 1950s metropolitan life with a pen as sharp as Dorothy Parker’s. 

Born in Dublin but finding herself in New York in her late teens, Brennan quickly worked her way up the echelons of New York society and became one of its greatest chroniclers. However, her heart always brought her back to Dublin. In a number of short stories that were penned for The New Yorker, and that are now brought to us via a fabulous new reissue from Peninsula Press, Brennan paints a picture of Dublin life in the 1920s and ’30s that genuinely puts one in mind of Joyce’s Dubliners.  

Named for the final story in the collection, The Springs of Affection is a rebirth. A chance for us all to reintroduce ourselves to this forgotten Irish writer who had such a unique and storied career. Near the end of Brennan’s sanity she became homeless and would often be found sleeping in the toilets of The New Yorker’s offices. It would have been unbelievable to her that her stories still exist, never mind are still being read. I think it feels only right that we can now, finally, welcome Maeve Brennan into the great pantheon of Irish writing. 

The Springs of Affection  book cover

Barry Pierce is a journalist and cultural commentator 

The Springs of Affection by Maeve Brennan is out now (Peninsula Press, £10.99).  You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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