The Mess We're In

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Mother Mother

Annie Macmanus author


Publisher:Headline Publishing Group

Published:11th May '23

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A book about finding home in a strange new place, and finding yourself when your life is a mess. The hotly anticipated second novel by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Mother Mother

'So vivid . . . What [Macmanus has] managed to do with London, and what London means to different generations of Irish people, is terrific, and deeply moving' RODDY DOYLE

'Totally captures the highs and lows, emotional and personal costs associated with those aspiring to be part of the tough world that is the music business' COSEY FANNI TUTTI

I'm a Londoner now. I'm a voice in the noise. I'm ready.

It's the turn of the millennium and, landing in London with nothing but her CD collection and demo tape, Orla Quinn moves into a squalid Kilburn house with her best mate and a band called Shiva.

Orla wants to make music, but juggling two jobs and partying every night isn't helping. Back in Ireland her parents' marriage has crumbled, she's not speaking to her father, and her mother and sister are drinking too much.

While Orla's own dreams seem to be going nowhere, Shiva are on the brink of something big. But as the hype around the band intensifies, so does the hedonism, and relationships in the house are growing strained.

This is the story of a young woman thrashing through life, trying to find home in a strange new place. It's also a story about music: how it can break you down and build you back up again, and how to find your rhythm when all you hear is noise.

Praise for The Mess We're In:

'I'm so sad it's over. I could have read another sixty chapters . . . A fantastic read' JOANNE MCNALLY

'Beautifully painted, well set up and realistic' SARA COX

'A dizzying tale of young adulthood and the glimmering freedom and not-so-good decisions that come with it.' CHLOE ASHBY

Praise for Mother Mother:

'A writer whose understanding and capturing of human nature comes as easily to her as breathing' CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS

'Writes with flair and confidence rarely seen in a debut' SINÉAD GLEESON

'Tender, surprising, occasionally bleak, moving and delicate' IRISH TIMES

A dizzyingly good read. * iPaper *
Captures a time and a place with heart and irresistible momentum in a prose that can be bracingly lyrical. * Observer *
A brilliant coming-of-age novel. * Bella Magazine *
Macmanus perfectly captures both the hedonism and uncertainty of being a twentysomething in a new city. * Heat Magazine *
The Mess We're In is a visceral, raw account of the music business' allure for young people and the trappings that are best avoided. Annie McManus proved herself to be a fine debut author with Mother Mother, and this cements her an exciting literary voice. * Sunday Business Post *
I really liked the book. I loved the pace of it, it belts along but never feels rushed. The writing is so vivid - I could almost feel Orla's hangover, and everyone else's too. [Macmanus has] created a great gang of characters, and a great variety too, all of them very human . . . All the music in the novel is cleverly and very successfully achieved. And London - what [she's] managed to do with London, and what London means to different generations of Irish people - is terrific, and deeply moving. -- Roddy Doyle
The book is so, so good...It's so beautifully written. I could have read on and on, I was so sad when it ended. -- Joanne McNally
Such a gorgeous book . . . I absolutely ate up every word . . . It has been so long since a book has stopped me from, not just checking my phone, but actively made me want to put my phone to the side and focus completely on the story. I loved Orla, I can see the TV show or the movie already. I loved the world - oh my God was it nostalgic about moving to London . . . It's just so grounded in someone who knows the world and place they're talking about and it just fully comes through . . . It's just done so brilliantly and needless to say at the end I cried... I loved this book. -- Aisling Bea
I felt like I'd joined Orla on a mad twisted fairground ride, clinging on with her as she's thrown about and has her ups and downs . . . Beautifully painted. -- Sara Cox
A heady exploration of home, identity and belonging. Dark and funny, it's a dizzying tale of young adulthood and the glimmering freedom and not-so-good decisions that come with it. -- Chloë Ashby
A warm and beautiful coming-of-age novel that made me nostalgic for an upbringing that wasn't even mine. I will read anything Annie Macmanus writes. -- Annie Lord
Perfectly evokes that heady mix of thrills and heartbreak we experience as young Irish newcomers trying to find our own London. I enjoyed it so so much. -- Graham Norton
The Mess We're In is a dynamic novel, charting Orla Quinn's move from Dublin to Kilburn. The story follows a group of friends as they come of age in a new and exciting London, filled with opportunity. But the shadows of lonely figures lurk on the High Road, and Macmanus deftly traces the Irish immigrant experience from intergenerational viewpoints. Awash with beautiful musical imagery, sharp dialogue, and colourful characters--this book searches for belonging, identity, camaraderie and new starts. A very moving read. -- Elaine Feeney
A gloriously unsentimental trip through youth, friendship and music. Always relatable, sometimes heartbreaking, it's a life-affirming survey of the triumphs, failures and messes of young adulthood. -- Séamas O'Reilly
A pounding, immersive kaleidoscopic trip right into the heart of London's clubland, I loved The Mess We're In for the wild trip that it is. Annie is such a generous writer, and she brings her extraordinary knowledge of the music industry to this gorgeous novel which thrums with the rhythm of many, many beats. Her depiction of the misogyny running through the music industry at the start of the millennium is eye opening, but this is a beautiful, optimistic novel which is so rich in both the strange, difficult, extraordinary experience of being a human, and the deeply redemptive power of music. It's a fantastic read and Annie is a wonderful writer. -- Clover Stroud, author of THE RED OF MY BLOOD
This is a well-written novel, perceptive about the music business and the fleeting connections made at the after parties of gigs. * Irish Examiner *

ISBN: 9781472297129

Dimensions: 236mm x 162mm x 38mm

Weight: 600g

384 pages