My latest book Keepsake is available now
‘Keepsake tackles the issue of animal rights, particularly the treatment of horses and the Traveller community in Ireland with its misunderstandings and stigma. Beautifully written, it demonstrates real passion and offers an adventure with much heart and courage. This is a classic ‘horse story’ with many contemporary elements and an inter-generational view … A carefully crafted, deliberate plot line never loses its rhythm and carries the reader on a fast-paced journey with exactly the right amount of drama and tension leading to an exciting, bold conclusion. Keepsake offers much, and it does not disappoint! A wonderful wonderful read for everyone.’
– Mary Esther Judy, children’s buyer for Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop
Keepsake by Paula Leyden also features an animal prominently in its story. Eleven-year-old Ella is seeking sanctuary for the summer at her grandmother’s house in the countryside after the recent separation of her parents. She becomes drawn to a stallion that grazes in a nearby field, and it is while tending to it one afternoon that she meets Johnny, the young Traveller boy who owns him.
When Storm is taken by “the pound man”, Ella and Johnny embark on a mission to save him. Leyden captures Ella’s emotional life with great conviction as she struggles to deal with her fraught family life. Although Ella has a unique gift – she can see the thoughts of those close to her – Leyden ensures she remains grounded and empathetic.
The story has a familiar, traditional feel, but Leyden’s use of technology (from Granny’s rules about dinner-table etiquette to Ella’s phone recording device) gives Keepsake an up-to-date feel that is never forced. The prejudice that drives the plot, meanwhile, is subtly introduced and resolved with great compassion.