The Mess We're In

An immersive story of music, friendship and finding your own rhythm, from the Sunday Times bestselling author

Annie Macmanus author


Publisher:Headline Publishing Group

Published:11th May '23


Available to order, but very limited on stock - if we have issues obtaining a copy, we will let you know.

The Mess We're In cover

'A heady mix of thrills and heartbreak . . . I enjoyed it so so much' GRAHAM NORTON

'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

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:

'Bracingly lyrical' OBSERVER

'A dizzyingly good read' iPAPER

'The bygone heyday of indie rock pulses with authenticity' IRISH INDEPENDENT

'Such a gorgeous book . . . I absolutely ate up every word' AISLING BEA

'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

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 study of grief, addiction and what it means to be a mother' STYLIST

'Melancholy, beautifully unadorned prose' MAIL ON SUNDAY

Glorious . . . So brilliant on being young, skint, ambitious and hopeful in London. My heart ached with identification, I loved it! Highly recommended -- Marian Keyes
A dizzyingly good read. * iPaper *
[An] immersive, music-infused coming-of-age story . . . Captures a time and a place with heart and irresistible momentum in a prose that can be bracingly lyrical. -- Hephzibah Anderson * 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 *
A brilliant coming of age novel. * Closer *
Annie Macmanus writes with remarkable verve and wisdom, and in Orla she has created easily my favourite character of recent years. Tender, hilarious, sad and ultimately hopeful... I love this book. -- Louise Kennedy
Macmanus makes deft work of capturing the Irish emigrant intergenerational experience. To prevent the characters who frequent the pub from tipping into caricature they are written with humour and grace, offering an illuminating foil to the new Irish experience that Orla represents...[Macmanus] has spun a moving story from the threads of her own history. Orla is written with unsentimental authenticity...It is her flaws, her vulnerability and her complexity that make her such a compelling character that will resonate with anyone who has ever left home in search of themselves... This novel is constructed of Macmanus's DNA - her Irish emigrant experience, music industry insight, her passion for music, people and stories - and the world that is built is deeply human, provocative and enriching. Orla is searching for a voice in the noise - Macmanus articulates that hunger with confidence and compassion. And in so doing, finds her own. -- Helen Cullen * Irish Times *
I adored this. I think in twenty years it will be just as vital - a historical document, saying, "Yes, this is how we lived." Beautiful and messy -- Karl Geary

ISBN: 9781472297129

Dimensions: 236mm x 162mm x 38mm

Weight: 600g

384 pages