Words leave imprints in your mind like footprints in the sand...
Prague, Czech Republic
Uluru, Australia
  • Location: Paris

The Joyce Girl

The Joyce Girl

Why a Booktrail?

1928: James Joyce is known the world over for his literature but what about Joyce’s girl? His daughter?  Admitted to an asylum…

  • ISBN: 978-1907605871
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

In 1928, Paris is buzzing and is riding the wave of avant-garde creativity in art, music and dance not to mention literature. Lucia is the daughter of the famous writer James Joyce and is quite the talent in the dancing world. One day a certain Samuel Beckett comes to visit and the two fall in love. From that moment, she is convinced she has met the man she’s going to marry and that she has clairvoyant powers which confirm it.

But then her brother is enticed away and the family’s fortunes seem to unravel for Beckett’s arrival has changed many things. Lucia loves her dancing but in the 1920s, what women wanted or desired was not always what they got. Lucia Joyce’s life was to change for ever.

Travel Guide

What goes on behind closed doors? In the home of the famous James Joyce and his only daughter, this world is a  difficult one for a woman and for a woman with an independent spirit in the first place.

Unbelievably this is a true story – of how one of the most famous Irish writers had his only daughter committed to an asylum.


Lucia spends much of  her childhood travelling through Europe until her parents settled in Paris. Working near Robiac Square, she joins the famous dancing school run by Raymond Duncan, the brother of the experimental dancer Isadora Duncan. The world of dance comes alive and enchants her.

The city of love is certainly that when Lucia falls for Beckett. There are many places in and around the city which are connected in some way to the people in the novel – The closeriedeslilas where Lucia has her post performance celebrations is still standing for example. The cemetery Cimetière Montparnasse is where Beckett is now buried. Fouquets is worth a visit as it’s where the Joyce family took Beckett on his first day working in the Joyce home.

Dancing world of Paris

Lucia was a pioneer pupil of  The Margaret Morris Movement (MMM) and this still exists in a few pockets of the world.

Historical figures

There are many literary and creative greats in the story of James and Lucia Joyce. Samuel Beckett, Zelda Fitzgerald, Alexander Calder and Stella Steyn. But it’s the relationship between James and Lucia which is examined:

“Lucia Joyce is her father’s daughter. She has James Joyce’s enthusiasm, energy and a not-yet determined amount of his genius” She is thought to be her father’s muse for Finnegans Wake.

Zurich and Kusnacht  – Asylum

In present day, Lucia retells her story to pioneering psychoanalyst, Doctor Carl Jung. Her father sends her here to take  the‘talking cure.’ She talks of life under the shadow of her father, of failed relationships and her desire to fly despite living in a gilded cage.

She spent her last 30 years in Northampton’s St Andrew’s hospital for mental diseases.

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

What a remarkable story! I knew nothing of James Joyce’s daughter and was totally mesmerized by what I found out. This novel’s based on true and detailed historic fact so it was particularly interesting. I particularly loved the way in which snippets were revealed in pieces, by Lucia in the psychoanalyst’s chair. Snippets and insights into her past in the way a patient being treated for a mental illness would recollect them. Then we go into the past – back to 1928 to see how she comes to be in the asylum and what happened to cause her problems.

To read of Lucia’s downfall and of all the events which lead to it was heartbreaking. Her love for Beckett and what happened with that was sad as was her eventual incarceration and thought process as she struggles to make sense of what her life has become. Such a promising star then reduced to what she was. I’m not surprised this story’s been tucked away by others so I am so pleased Annabel has written this and made it so interesting and accessible.

I think this novel says a lot about mental illness, how it was viewed, diagnosed and indeed treated and how people viewed those afflicted with any degree of depression or mental health issues. There is so much to this novel for book clubs and for people to discuss and I am so pleased at how Annabel has given her such an important voice now.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information: The Joyce Girl

Author/Guide: Annable Abbs  Destination: Paris    Departure Time: 1928

Twitter:  @annabelabbs  Web:   annabelabbs.com

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