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Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474618519

Price: £18.99

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One winter morning on an ordinary day in contemporary Dublin, an ordinary middle-class woman wakes up in her ordinary suburban home. Her husband is next to her in bed, her teenage children sleeping nearby.

Without thinking much about it, she walks out the front door and never comes back.

She travels first by car, then train, then ferry. Along the way, she finds herself in service stations and shopping centres, hotel bars and hairdressers – and in the beds of strange men.

Finally, forty-eight hours later, alone in a cottage in Wales, the woman faces up to what she has been ignoring inside herself, her family, modern society: signs of breakdown.

From one of Ireland’s most provocative and admired writers, this is a story of rage and reckoning, joy and transformation.


Cathy Sweeney is a 21st century Kafka, an Irish Ernaux. Breakdown is so vivid, so formally dazzling, and so startling. As with only the very, very best books, you will experience the world afresh having read this. It is a hugely important novel for the 21st century
Danny Denton, author of THE EARLIE KING & THE KID IN YELLOW
A gripping character study . . . Sweeney shines a light on the grimy underbelly of family life in scenes so searing you almost wince to read them
Daily Mail
I loved this. It skewers mid-life motherhood malaise. A Falling Down for suburban housewives. A gripping study of middle-aged womanhood and shelved dreams. Subversive, darkly funny, tragic and illuminating all at once.
Edel Coffey, author of BREAKING POINT
Literary in style but as propulsive as a thriller, you won't be able to put this down. A fascinating study of a woman who has sacrificed her dreams
The Gloss
Breakdown is set to be one of the most talked-about books of 2024. The novel follows as [a woman] breaks societal rules and taboos in a quest for freedom, while contemplating a woman's lot in the Ireland of the 2020's
Irish Sunday Times
Cathy Sweeney is one of the most original writers at work today, and Breakdown is a novel of at once spectacular reach and unforgettable intimacy. Her writing gleams throughout like a stone underwater
Adrian Duncan, author of A SABBATICAL IN LIEPZIG
A truthful and compassionate account of contemporary of marriage and motherhood that is as poignant as it is unsettling. Long after reading, Breakdown lingers in the mind
Margaret Meyer, author of THE WITCHING TIDE
Breakdown has an unflinching wisdom about the sacrifices we make to our integrity when we pretend at perfection, in marriage, in parenting, making a home. Sweeney's writing is starkly perceptive, brave and honest, challenging the universal fear of how easy it is to trip into free-fall and how hard it is to then go back
Lily Dunn, author of SINS OF MY FATHER
A masterful account of one woman's dramatic rebellion against society's demands. Compelling, exquisitely written and painfully perceptive
Daily Express
Cathy Sweeney has managed to capture the unique interiority of a middle-aged, middle-class family woman who is hellbent on blowing her life up. Sweeney has the swagger and elan of a much more seasoned writer
Irish Independent Weekend