by Elizabeth Boyle
3 March 2022
'Like nothing else you will read' Hilary Mantel Every day a beloved father dies. Every day a lover departs. Every day a woman turns forty.
All three happening together brings a moment of reckoning. Medieval historian Elizabeth Boyle made sense of these events the best way she knew how - by immersing herself in the literature that has been her first love and life's work for over two decades. Fierce Appetites is the exhilarating and deeply humane result.
Not only does Elizabeth Boyle write dazzling accounts of ancient stories, familiar and obscure, from Ireland and further afield, but she uses her historical learning to grapple with the raw and urgent questions she faces, questions that have bedevilled people in every age. She writes on grief, addiction, family breakdown, the complexities of motherhood, love and sex, memory, class, education, travel (and staying put) with unflinching honesty, deep compassion and occasional dark humour. Fierce Appetites is captivating and original - as an insight into the mind and heart of a groundbreaking scholar, and as a wise and reassuring account of what it is to be human.
_____________________'I loved this luminous, radical book about bodies in time. It is a deeply personal history, that simultaneously brings medieval myth and poetry to breathing, bleeding life. An education for the mind and the heart' Clare Pollard 'An eloquent plea for the value of curiosity and the life of the mind, standing up the robustness of scholarship against the frailty of individuals, the resilience of myth against brittle daily preoccupations.
It's an agile story, irreverent, capacious and constantly surprising: like nothing else you will read' Hilary Mantel 'Bracingly honest, fiery, funny, scholarly, Fierce Appetites really is a wildly good book' Hilary Fannin 'Everything is illuminated, magnified, revisioned: sexual desire, motherhood, family. Her writing is unorthodox, unnerving, and very exciting' Tanya Shadrick 'I absolutely loved this utterly original book. Immersing myself in Elizabeth Boyle's considerable brain was a true privilege, and the way she uses medieval narratives to unpick her own present was endlessly surprising and beautiful.
I read it in two sittings, devouring her perspective on life, love, loss' Clover Stroud 'An outstanding achievement. Fierce Appetites defies easy categorization, is brilliantly written and simply deserves to be read' Darach O Seaghdha