Fiction Book Reviews

Romance | The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually | Helen Cullen

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I’m delighted to be on the Michael Joseph tour today sharing my thoughts for The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen. 

This is one of my top reads for 2020.

Book cover for The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen

On an island off the west coast of Ireland, the Moone family are shattered by tragedy.

Murtagh Moone is a potter and devoted husband to Maeve, an actor struggling with her most challenging role yet – being a mother to their four children. Now Murtagh must hold his family close as we bear witness to their story before that tragic night.

We return to the day Maeve and Murtagh meet, outside Trinity College in Dublin, and watch how one love story gives rise to another. And as the Moone children learn who their parents truly are, we journey onwards with them to a future that none of the Moones could predict . .

Except perhaps Maeve herself.

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually is a celebration of the complex, flawed and stubbornly optimistic human heart.

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen is published by Michael Joseph and is available to purchase in audiobook format now and from 20th August will be available to purchase in digital and hardcover formats.


It’s going to be difficult to find the words that will express just how much this story has affected me.  It’s so beautiful and yet utterly sad.  My heart broke and then it healed …

Where the story begins leaves us in no doubt about where we will be led.  At first I thought this was a bit strange as where else could the story possibly lead us if we knew the ending already?  Turned out, it might have been an ending but it wasn’t the ending at all.

I had so much empathy towards this couple.  I was trying to hold myself back from the moment they met because I didn’t want my heart tangled up, but I couldn’t help myself.  Life on the island as a family drew me in and always in the back of my mind, I wondered what the impact on their children would be.  There are already glimpses – as much as I loved the scene where they’re camping outside – it was Sive’s answer to Maeve’s question that is telling. Bittersweet. I didn’t have to wonder for too long though as it’s clear as adults how the choices they made were related to that time. 

Maeve’s innermost thoughts in her diary explains so much and adds understanding.   Honest, open and the truth, I thought this was sensitively portrayed by Helen Cullen.  

There are several scenes that made my throat ache from holding back tears but I finally let myself cry at the most beautiful scene on Christmas Eve 2015.  Such a release of pent up emotion (for me)!  It was exactly how it was meant to be.

Be prepared to experience all the emotions.

Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. Helen’s debut novel The Lost Letters of William Woolf (2018) was shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and has been optioned for television.

Helen freelances for the Sunday Times Magazine and is a regular features writer and book reviewer for the Irish Times.

Follow Helen on Twitter @wordsofhelen


I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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