‘Four girls sit on rocks in the middle of the stream: a dark plump girl; a girl whose hair burgeons from her head in a mane of light; another with long white legs and short black shorts, clipped jet hair; a willowy branch of a girl, blonde. The sun shines though green leaves, glancing off chestnut water and all the hair…’
It is 1972: a group of teenagers, some from Dublin, some from Derry, spend a month in the Donegal Gaeltacht, learning Irish language and culture from their teachers and the local people they are boarding with. Liberated for the first time from the restricting reins of parental control, they respond to the untamed landscape of river, hill and sea, finding in it unnerving echoes of their own submerged – and now emerging – wildnesses.
Hailed as ‘one of the most compelling exercises in the female Bildungsroman’ and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for fiction, The Dancers Dancing is an acknowledged classic by one of our most important Irish writers.
If you enjoyed The Dancers Dancing, you might also enjoy Eílís Ní Dhuibhne’s novel Fox, Swallow, Scarecrow and her short story collection The Shelter of Neighbours.