Inspired by Emma’s sister, who has autism and cerebral palsy, Owl Song at Dawn is an uplifting and powerful novel about a fierce octogenarian who spends a lifetime in Morecambe Bay, trying to unlock the secrets of her exuberant yet inexplicable twin.
Maeve Maloney is a force to be reckoned with. Despite nearing eighty, she keeps Sea View Lodge just as her parents did during Morecambe’s 1950s heyday. But now only her employees and regular guests recognise the tenderness and heartbreak hidden beneath her spikiness. Until, that is, Vincent shows up.
Vincent is the last person Maeve wants to see. He is the only man alive to have known her twin sister, Edie. The nightingale to Maeve’s crow, the dawn to Maeve’s dusk, Edie would have set her sights on the stage – all things being equal. But, from birth, things never were.
If only Maeve could confront the secret past she shares with Vincent, she might finally see what it means to love and be loved: a lesson that her exuberant yet inexplicable twin may have been trying to teach her all along.
Owl Song at Dawn can be ordered in paperback from Foyles or in paperback, e-book or audio book on Amazon.
“This is a gripping novel by a hugely gifted writer and one that is rich on atmosphere and character study. The originality of the work is its investigative story line which focuses on the loving relationship between a twin and her disabled sister. What is unusual is that the protagonist, Maeve, is 79 years old. Her long life is the motor that reveals the changing attitudes to disability in English society over the past decades.”
“There’s a lot of pain and even tragedy in Owl Song at Dawn, but it ends on a note of optimism, even joy, based on the simple premise that differences can bind the human family together rather than divide it. All it takes is patience, generosity, and willingness to understand. In her author’s note, Sweeney talks about her own sister Lou, who “might well look broken” to outsiders. When Lou was born, her doctor recommended that she be institutionalized, but she wasn’t, and now she leads the way ‘onto the dance floor, throwing back her head in laughter.’ ‘So which of us is really broken,’ Sweeney asks: ‘Lou, who elbows her way between couples, getting the men to dance with her; or me, who looks on, half in apology, half in admiration?’ Owl Song at Dawn is a smart, tender, moving exploration of the same question.”
“This is a remarkable book, original, intelligent, heart-breaking, funny at times, acerbic at others, compassionate and tender; reviewing it tends to lead to a list of adjectives – all of them positive.”
“The true meaning of Owl Song at Dawn hit home to me in multiple ways. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to deal with such prejudice about something you cannot control. You want to fight for the one you love, but there is only so much you can do if things are understood in different ways. I could feel the emotion right from the beginning to the very end, the powerful and fierce message the book contains is quite overwhelming.”
“Owl Song at Dawn a reflective journey of ‘what ifs’ and the emotional torment we reap from situations often outside out control. No matter how late the hour you can still discover what truly matters in life.It’s the most wonderful, soul-reaching read, which embraced me wholeheartedly, and in turn I wholeheartedly recommend it.”
“Owl Song At Dawn is an original and thought-provoking debut that is readable and engaging whilst packing a punch and making an important point about past regrets, love and living with differences whatever they might be. I will look forward to reading more from Emma Claire Sweeney.”
“Poignant and rich, and British as a stick of Morecombe rock, Owl Song at Dawn provides an insight into the hitherto hidden world of the severely disabled, and families who vehemently oppose their institutionalisation. Here, they become people with voices, not just statistics…the decision to convey Edie’s exultant, exuberant, nonsensical language gives her back her proper humanity.”
Owl Song at Dawn has also received glowing endorsementsfrom fellow novelists.