All the Little Bird-Hearts: A Novel By Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow Cover Image
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Longlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize, this poetic and often funny debut -- "a motherhood story unlike any other" (Booklist) -- a by an author with autism is written from the point of view of an autistic woman as she and her headstrong adolescent daughter are befriended by a glamorous, charismatic couple with dark ulterior motives.

I lived for and loved a bird-heart that summer; I only knew it afterwards.
Sunday Forrester lives with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Dolly, in the house she grew up in. She does things more carefully than most people. On quiet days, she must eat only white foods. Her etiquette handbook guides her through confusing social situations, and to escape, she turns to her treasury of Sicilian folklore. The one thing very much out of her control is clever headstrong Dolly, now on the cusp of leaving home.

Into this carefully ordered world step Vita and Rollo, a couple who move in next door, disarm Sunday with their glamor and charm, and proceed to deliciously break just about every rule in Sunday’s book. Soon they are in and out of each others’ homes, and Sunday feels loved and accepted like never before. But beneath Vita and Rollo’s polish lies something else, something darker. For Sunday has precisely what Vita has always wanted for herself: a daughter of her own.

An astute and poignant psychological portrait of a woman coming to terms with what love means, and why discovering our own unique gifts can save us.

About the Author

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow received a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Kent and has extensive personal, professional, and academic experience relating to autism. Like her protagonist, Sunday Forrester, in All the Little Bird-Hearts, Viktoria is autistic. She has presented her doctoral research internationally, most recently speaking at Harvard University on autism and literary narrative. Viktoria lives with her husband and children on the coast of north-east Kent. This is her first novel.

Praise For…

“A poetic debut which masterfully intertwines themes of familial love, friendship, class, prejudice and trauma with psychological acuity and wit.” —The Booker Prize Judges 2023

“A novel both delicate and strong, illuminating the disturbing and the extraordinary to be found in the every day. Sunday is a beguiling and beguiled narrator, and her story an examination of the disjunction between humans’ private and public selves. I loved it.”
 —Maggie O’Farrell, National Book Critics Circle winner and New York Times bestselling author of Hamnet and The Marriage Portrait

“Observations land with the startling yet welcome snap of good standup comedy. . .The result is a tightly focused story, set almost entirely in two neighboring houses on a quiet street, that’s also a gleeful skewering of social codes, a raw portrait of family life and a revealing account of neurodivergence. Sunday may shy away from attention, but Lloyd-Barlow makes her wary, vigilant and poetic voice the star in a mesmerizing debut.”
The Guardian
 —The Guardian

Five Stars."Superb. Wonderful. All the Little Bird-Hearts is a beautiful, bittersweet debut…sharply evocative of both motherhood and how British society treats people with disabilities. Throughout the novel, Lloyd-Barlow’s prose sings, and has real acuteness of observation.” —The Telegraph

"[A] tender debut novel."—Washington Post

"Lloyd-Barlow... succeeds in creating a tempest in a very small, provincial teapot... Lloyd-Barlow’s narrator is... an effective, thoroughly human character in a thoughtful book."—Kirkus Review

“Lloyd-Barlow’s portrayal of Sunday’s contentment and confusions makes for a deeply humanizing representation of autism, and her prose is arrestingly sharp. This auspicious debut brims with quiet tragedies and lush emotional landscapes.”—Publishers Weekly

“A motherhood story unlike any other, Lloyd-Barlow’s 2023 Booker Prize–longlisted debut novel is a heartfelt, firsthand account of a neurodivergent mother’s experiences of love, pain, and loss in a world that requires constant translation… an engrossing page-turner.”—Booklist

“What a glorious, unforgettable character Vita is. And I loved Sunday's voice too, so unique, right from the off. It showed me things about autism that will stay with me. A genuinely valuable book, but more importantly I enjoyed being inside its world.”
 —Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley

“Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow's is a distinct and poetic new voice. This novel about the complex desires behind our closest relationships is undercut with the darkness of Sicilian folklore: the fisherman who promises away his child; the lover who is a wolf; a caged magpie; burning fields.”
 —Clare Pollard, poet and author of Delphi

 “Funny, lyrical, deft and devastating. Full of longing and love.”
 —Amy Sackville, author of Painter to the King

Product Details
ISBN: 9781643756615
ISBN-10: 1643756613
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: December 5th, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English