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To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, Irish poet and novelist Esther Campion shared with us the books that changed her.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
This classic was on the English course for the Leaving Certificate when I was in secondary school in Ireland. We had a wonderful ambidextrous teacher who strained on high heels to reach half-way up the chalkboard where she would write great swathes of the text with alternate hands, never missing a beat. These passages had to be memorised and quoted verbatim in the exam. I ate it up, loved every magnificent detail of the constricted lives of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.

A Small Fat Boy Walking Backwards by Gerry Murphy
The first of many collections by this Irish poet, Small Fat Boy made literature real for me. I was eighteen and working in a swimming pool with Gerry when he invited me to the launch. Although much of the political and historical elements of the work went over my head, I understood enough to be impressed at the depth of knowledge and, in particular, the bold nature of his work. When I came to writing in my forties, it was this courage and sense of creating from the soul that spurred me on.

Rise by Ingrid Poulson
I wasn’t living in Australia in 2003 when Ingrid Poulson lost her father and two small children in a horrific domestic violence event, but I am forever grateful to have come across her book in the months after my arrival when I was struggling with lesser losses of my own. This is a book to which I return when life throws one of its inevitable curve balls and it all feels just too overwhelming. In the most practical yet personal way, Poulson shares her insights into developing resilience and finding joy and consolation every day.

Italienske Sko by Henning Mankell
This is the first novel I ever read in Norwegian. I’d been living in Norway and had taken lots of lessons before I was confident enough to have a go. It’s about a retired surgeon who made a terrible mistake in his career and is now living on a remote island off the coast of Sweden. The story takes us on a journey through snowy winter landscapes so tangible I’m sure I had to put on another jumper while reading. Language learning is such an important skill and although not the best student of Irish in school, I feel very privileged to have been exposed to another language since childhood.


Esther Campion is from Cork, Ireland and currently lives in north-west Tasmania. She attended North Presentation Secondary School in Cork and has degrees from University College Cork and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Esther and her Orcadian husband have lived together in Ireland, Scotland, Norway and South Australia. They have two grown-up children in Adelaide and the youngest at home in Tassie. Esther loves sharing her life on a small property with an over-indulged chocolate Labrador, a smoochy cat and a couple of ageing mares, all of whom she firmly believes are living proof that dreams really can come true.

Esther's latest book, A Week To Remember, is out now.

  • A Week to Remember - Esther Campion

    A converted stone farmhouse on the Irish coast is about to receive its first guests in this warmly captivating story for fans of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney.

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