For readers of Eimear McBride, Anna Burns and Claire Louise Bennett, This Happy is a fervid, glowing-hot novel about relationships and the way the past informs the present from a hugely exciting new voice in contemporary literary fiction.
I have taken apart every panel of this, like an ornamental fan. But we stayed in the cottage for three weeks only, just three weeks, because it was cut short you see - cut short after just three weeks, when I'd left my entire life behind.
When Alannah was twenty-three, she met a man who was older than her - a married man - and fell in love. Things happened suddenly. They met in April, in the first bit of mild weather; and in August, they went to stay in rural Ireland, overseen by the cottage's landlady.
Six years later, when Alannah is newly married to another man, she sees the landlady from afar. Memories of those days spent in bliss, then torture, return to her. And the realisation that she has been waiting - all this time - to be rediscovered.
If you loved Sally Rooney's NORMAL PEOPLE, read this novel... It's become de rigeur to label any young Irish writer the 'next Sally Rooney' over the last few years, but Niamh Campbell has a stronger claim to the title than most... darkly romantic... The moral ambiguities (and irreconcilable power struggles) inherent in the relationship are familiar territory for fans of CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS, but in many ways, the prose is less reminiscent of Rooney's clipped, email-honed style than of Eimear McBride's lyrical Joycean sentences. - Vogue
One of the year's most beautifully written books, THIS HAPPY traces the path to womanhood of Alannah from disastrous affair to no-less-comfortable marriage and beyond. - The i, Best Books of 2020 So Far
Sharply written... The quality of the writing is top-notch. Page after page of astute, deft observations... Campbell holds her own against her contemporaries, writers like Claire-Louise Bennett, Sally Rooney, Nicole Flattery and Lucy Sweeney Byrne, who have set a high bar at home and abroad for fast-paced, truth-laced fiction... THIS HAPPY is a layered and vibrant debut. Campbell is great on setting... The novel is full of sensual, offbeat descriptions... Characterisation is another strength. - Irish Times
What sets it apart is also its greatest strength: a well-constructed non-linear form... The story of this relationship
is interweaved with the present so closely that it feels almost overlaid, reading convincingly like a memory. There's also interesting commentary on class... THIS HAPPY's retrospective narration allows Alannah to accept responsibility gradually for her past actions, ultimately making her a fuller, more satisfying character than others of this ilk... a quietly exhilarating story. - The Sunday Times
Astute... As she explores her ambivalence and unrest, each refracted through the prism of her experience
and each considered in her sharp, antic and candid voice, we are offered a dazzling array of thoughts on the mute choreography of human relationships, the piercing solitude of romantic endeavour, the "melancholy and longing" that overtakes middle-aged men (a condition "they always believe to be original"), and the unbidden arrival of the truth