The Guinness Girls: A Hint of Scandal

Emily Hourican / Fiction

Book cover

UK Publisher

Headline Review

Date Published

October 14th, 2021

From the top ten bestselling author of The Glorious Guinness Girls, a stunning new novel of secrets, scandals and passions which follows the three enigmatic Guinness sisters, set in Ireland and London in the fascinating 1930s.

It’s the dawn of the 1930s and the three privileged Guinness sisters, Aileen, Maureen and Oonagh, settle into becoming wives and mothers: Aileen in Luttrellstown Castle outside Dublin, Maureen in Clandeboye in Northern Ireland, and Oonagh in Rutland Place in London.

But while Britain becomes increasingly politically polarised, Aileen, Maureen and Oonagh discover conflict within their own marriages.

Oonagh’s dream of romantic love is countered by her husband’s lies; the intense nature of Maureen’s marriage means passion, but also rows; while Aileen begins to discover that, for her, being married offers far less than she had expected.

Meanwhile, Kathleen, a housemaid from their childhood home in Glenmaroon, travels between the three sisters, helping, listening, watching – even as her own life brings her into conflict with the clash between fascism and communism.

As affairs are uncovered and secrets exposed, the three women begin to realise that their guiled upbringing could not have prepared them for the realities of married life, nor for the scandals that seem to follow them around.


A bright, pacy, readable account of the early lives of these extraordinary women . . . fans of Downton Abbey will adore this

- Sunday Times

The Glorious Guinness Girls has already been compared, and rightly so, to Downton Abbey. The two share a delicious comfort-blanket quality, only in the book's case, you do not need to wait until Sunday evenings before availing of its escapist properties. The story combines the intimacy of a family drama, set against the most opulent of backdrops, with sweeping historical themes. The tragic fragility of so many of the Guinness Girls' set - that ability to burn bright, but burn fast, is perfectly captured here

- Irish Independent

“much more than a rose-tinted, nostalgic Downtonesque homage to a lost era... Hourican incisively questions the gender values and social mores of the aristocratic circles within which the Guinness family move.”

- The Sunday Independent

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