The Last Days of Joy by Anne Tiernan

Reviewed by Gail McDonald

The Last Days of Joy is Anne Tiernan’s debut novel. Anne centred the book in Tauranga in New Zealand where she lives with her husband. Anne was born in Zambia and grew up in a small town near Dublin. She studied English Literature and Psychology at Trinity College.

This was a very enjoyable read as you meet the members of the Tobin family.

Joy who is 67 years old is a troubled soul with a sad past. Joy makes a decision and follows through with her plan with considered preparation, even to the point of putting a note on her front day advising of the actions to take. Joy has three children who, when they hear the devastating news, rush to their mother’s side, bringing with them the unresolved grief and anger as a result of their mother’s behaviour when they were growing up.

Frances, her first born, is the family stalwart – the responsible one who always makes the correct decisions and is just so reliable. But circumstances cause her to deviate from the perfect path that she has set herself and finds that she is less than perfect – thinking about another man from her past. Frances is married to Harry and together they have a daughter Livvy whom Frances is pushing to compete in swimming championships against Livvy’s wishes.

Conor is the middle child, an entrepreneur who has a business that he created which sets up fund raising activities for the wealthy to donate funds which he distributes to charities. When we meet Conor, he is in a relationship with a young former intern. Conor appears to be privileged and jet sets around the world living the high life.

Joy’s third child is Sinead, who once had success as a writer and is now waiting for the next great idea to turn into her second novel. In the meantime, Sinead is living in Dublin, Ireland and conducts yoga classes until she gets over her writer’s block.

As Joy hovers between life and death on life support, the siblings come together to make decisions about her care and try to understand why Joy took such drastic action. All three siblings struggle with their mother’s action and each of the face consequences of their decisions and their behaviour afterwards.

Eventually they turn off Joy’s life support and allow nature to take its course.

The siblings at the end are more aware of how their mum’s behaviour impacted on who they are now and as they grew up.

Throughout the book, the author cleverly adds to the story from Joy’s point of view. We hear of her battle as a young child and the devastating things that occurred to her that lead her to become an alcoholic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had moments of lightness, reflection and certainly humour. It was a very real account of family dynamics under difficult circumstances.

I would absolutely recommend this to the reader.

The Last Days of Joy


by Anne Tiernan


ISBN 978 186971 519 9

$34.99; 400pp

🤞 Want to get the latest book reviews in your inbox?

🤞 Want to get the latest book reviews in your inbox?

Scroll to Top