SURPRISE hit of Christmas, Julia Kelly's first novel, With My Lazy Eye, is a really gorgeous evocation of the time from childhood through adolescence.
A surprise because of its newness and its drab cover, by the way, not because of the writing, which is masterly.
Lucy Bastonme ("based-on-me"?) is as eccentric as every child, especially every middle child, squashed between the wonder of the firstborn and the adorableness of the baby.
With her lazy eye and her definite refusal to conform - as we first meet Lucy, she's gazing down the plug-hole at the finecomb she thrust down there when her mother tried to remove her population of lice - she watches the family and friends from an ironic distance.
This is a big writer, whose work we're seeing in its first flush. Kelly's ability to focus on the tiny things, so that this shortsighted peering opens out to reflect a whole vision of life, is the mark of a master.
Kelly has worked as a desk editor for Irish and British publishers, and has written a monthly column for dSide magazine for several years; on reading With My Lazy Eye I went hunting hopefully online, but unfortunately they're not there.
If you want a book to curl up with while you recover from that whole Christmas effort by taking to the bed with a mug of tea and a bowl of reheated Christmas pudding and brandy butter, rush out and buy With My Lazy Eye - if there are any copies left.