The Luck Penny

The Luck Penny: Newstalk Interview (Amazon)

Lugal 3

It was a morning upon which a war might have started…

It is autumn 1849. Queen Victoria is on the throne. The British Empire is at its zenith. The Californian Gold Rush has started. Cholera stalks the streets of London, Dublin and Belfast. In a small town in southern Ireland, a short-sighted Church of Ireland minister sits fretting over a cuneiform inscription from ancient Persia.


‘Rubbing Along’. James Ryan (Dublin Review of Books)

‘John Maher’s novel  The Luck Penny, which lyrically and intelligently anatomises the soul of an age not entirely dissimilar to our own, the mid-19th century, when the world shot forward at a spectacular rate of knots, ushering in coal and steel and cholera in the process. A story of the modern age in bygone times by a modern mind in touch with the future.’ Patrick McCabe

‘John Maher’s debut novel compels through its subtle emphasis on the need to remain open to plural readings of history and culture, so that the power of  the past to determine the future might be mitigated.’ The Irish Times

John Maher confirms himself as one of Irish writing’s bright stars with this meditation on death. A superbly executed  story about bereavement told through characters that intrigue from the first. There’s a contemplative immediacy to The Luck Penny from the start you care about what happens to its central characters and its linguistic abundance has a wide appeal. Maher is a writer concerned with placing his story in a period in Ireland that reflects the ignorance and gombeenism of the past, but also its religious and political hopefulness. reading world because ultimately it’s the exploration of the universality of death and its sometime corollary of redemption. Maher is clearly a writer of sufficient gift to create a vision capable of emphasising such intention to his readership.

‘The author of the short story collection, The Coast of Malabar is surely destined to eclipse his already substantial reputation with this exceptionally realised novel. Superb matter.’ Sunday Tribune

‘An expertly crafted, tender tale of grief, language and land… London wheezes with cholera yet whirrs dizzily with life, while the Irish countryside hums with secrets, superstition and political unrest. The characterisation is deftly observed  the social mores of the day, the prejudices and cultural differences are beautifully illuminated in the interplay between coloniser and colonised… The contrasting roles that ring throughout the story ….the poised, restrained yet rich inflections of the English settlers, the musical and romantic, yet earthly Irish lilt and the ancient, impenetrable Babylonian text – inter-weave to create a compelling study of a world where it truly does take all sorts. A richly rewarding read.’ Metro

‘Beautifully written… Maher writes with wonderful sympathy and insight… Mrs Tours and Eliza Drew, with all their worries and problems come across as particularly intriguing and arresting creations… He is equally strong on evincing the religious, class and linguistic divisions that hold the townspeople apart… The Luck Penny is the work of a dedicated and gifted writer who has plenty to say.’ Sunday Business Post

‘John Maher is a complex and intriguing writer. As high-class entertainment, this is seriously comic storytelling.’ Irish Independent

‘An accomplished confection of death, trauma, psychosis,  paranoia, illicit love, colonial power and native subversion.’ Irish Book Review

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