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Lit Festival’s Sara pens her debut novel

December 1st, 2022 8:30 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Lit Festival’s Sara pens her debut novel Image
The debut novel by West Cork Literary Festival manager, Sara O’Donovan, has been hailed ‘a triumph.’ (Photo: Karlis Dzjamko)

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MANAGER of the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, Sara O’Donovan has released her debut novel Within You, Without You. 

The novel, published by Valley Press in North Yorkshire, will be launched in Bantry Bookshop on Saturday December 3rd at 11.30am.

Sara has worked for West Cork Music for a number of years. Before then she freelanced as an equestrian journalist and wrote a book called Horses of County Cork before turning her hand to fiction. She says that it is thanks to the West Cork Literary Festival that she came to write her debut novel. 

‘I met an editor at our festival who encouraged me to develop a recurring thought I’d had and that thought became the opening of this novel,’ she said. The novel also touches briefly on the world of horse racing. 

Sara’s background is in racing and show jumping. Her father comes from Leap and is a former jump jockey who rode in the first televised Grand National. 

Sara grew up in West Sussex and an English degree was followed by a year as racing secretary with the Queen’s trainer before she moved to Ireland. 

She now lives near Clonakilty with her husband, young family, horses and dogs.

Set in Yorkshire, Liverpool, Sussex and Cork, Within You, Without You is a Sliding Doors-style story of Kathryn who thinks that she has seen her first boyfriend Ed on the side of the road on a dark and stormy night. 

However someone doesn’t just reappear like that. Not when they died 20 years ago. Uncovering long-buried memories of first love and its devastating loss, she returns to her past to try and rewrite her present, discovering that reality isn’t what she had been led to believe.

The novel has received praise from author and actress Carol Drinkwater who said, ‘This is a wonderful debut novel by Sara. She writes beautifully and there is such a sense of compassion for her characters.’

Cork novelist Denyse Woods said, ‘This stirring evocation of love, Liverpool and the mysteries of time kept me gripped from the first exquisite word to the last.’

Cork author Tadhg Coakley described the novel as, ‘a wonderful and moving love story. An accomplished novel of joy, passion, loss and years of regret. A real debut triumph.’

Within You, Without You is available from Valley Press (,local bookshops and Amazon.

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