Sandycove, the Dublin-based Penguin Random House imprint, has bought Elizabeth Boyle's collection of essays which are a "mesmerising hybrid of memoir and literary reconnaissance".
Patricia Deevy, Sandycove deputy publisher, snapped up UK and Commonwealth, excluding Canada, and Irish rights to The Dark Age from Robert Caskie at Robert Caskie Ltd.
The Dark Age is both Boyle's personal reflecttion on the pandemic year—in which she turned 40—and a look at "the big questions: grief, familial devotion and estrangement, romantic love, ageing, addiction, identity, faith, curiosity, nature, writing and thinking, memory and forgetting. In a dozen sparkling essays she shares a complicated personal story and explores the great passion of her life, medieval literature, to create a work of startling originality and vitality."
Deevy said: "I was stunned by the brilliance of Elizabeth's writing. She is extraordinarily candid, funny and wise. And she also is a genius scholar whose range of references—everything from medieval poetry to heavy metal—is exhilarating. Her early work on The Dark Age is both daringly modern and enthrallingly timeless and I can't wait to get it into readers' hands."
Boyle is the head of Early Irish at Maynooth University whose academic work centres around the history, culture and literature of pre-modern Europe. She said: "My work as a medieval historian has often given me a deep-past perspective on my own life experiences. The sources that I study from medieval Ireland and Britain deal—sometimes in surprising ways—with themes that intersect with my lived reality: family breakdown, grief, addiction, education, sex and travel. The events of 2020 provide a particularly acute lens through which to view these various strands, so I hope to interweave recent and distant pasts in ways that can offer insights, consolation, and hope for the future."
Caskie added that he was "immediately drawn to Lizzie’s great ability to combine the modern and medieval in order to explore the themes of grief, aging and nature whilst at the same time revealing her personal experience of these to us".