Pick Up an Irish Writer for St. Patrick's Day
When I think of Irish authors, as I often do around St. Patrick's Day, I think of women's fiction. I think of big, fat books (I don't think I've ever seen a short Irish novel). Mostly I think that I need to read more of them. Looking to dip your toe into some Irish fiction? Here's a few suggestions.
Authors I've read:
A few years ago, I went through a very earnest Maeve Binchy phase. Her books were really quite perfect for reading over the weekend. When I think about reading Maeve Binchy novels, I think of Toronto and sitting on a bench in the Beaches, while Lake Ontario gently laps in the background and people roller blade on the boardwalk. It's good memories for me. While I really have enjoyed her novels, perhaps my favourite of her books is The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club, her non-fiction guide on how to write. There's not a lot of new advice in the book, but Binchy shares her own experiences in it and is gently reassuring, almost as if she were your own Aunt Maeve.
Catherine Ryan Howard had this to say about the Writers Club:
The knowledge that sometime, somewhere, someone had been staring out the window for last forty-five minutes wondering why Jennifer and Brad really broke up instead of writing the 2,000 words they swore they would and that that person eventually became the kind of bestselling writer you're desperately trying to be is very comforting, especially when you’re stuck on a plot point or can't even get out of bed because you’re convinced you're an embarrassingly failure who couldn’t even write a parking ticket, let alone a book.
And sometimes, that’s just what we need, isn't it? A little comfort?
I have a love/hate relationship with Marian Keyes' books. When I like them, I really, really like them, but when I don't, I really, really don't. I still remember the first book of hers that I read. It was Sushi for Beginners, and I picked it up off the shelf at the Westmount Library in Montreal. I had heard good things about it, and it was fat and inviting. I seem to recall trying to make my roommate read it after I was finished, but seeing as she was studying for finals (in ancient Latin and Greek, no less), I didn't quite succeed.
Keyes made news earlier this year with something even more personal than her writing -- her battle with depression. She talked about in an update on her website, saying, "I am laid low with crippling depression." Kinda Sassy applauded Keyes' revelation, "not because it makes them more real in a sappy, badly written romantic fiction kind of manner, but because it normalises real life for real people."
For a long time I thought that Cecelia Ahern had written a book I hated. Turns out it wasn't the book I thought it was at all. What book it was that I hated I still don't know -- but this is precisely why I blog and keep spreadsheets of the books I read now, so I don't have to go around for years thinking I hated someone I've never read. You might know Ahern as the woman who wrote the book P.S. I Love You, which resulted in us getting to see Gerald Butler shirtless. For that I say thank you, Ms. Ahern.
This is what bibliophile Shy had to say about Ahern's writing:
One thing that I love most about Cecelia is that she has an incredible talent in deciphering humans' complexities through her writing. Even though she tends to use a roundabout, difficult analogy to explain something, she did that beautifully and I found myself enchanted in the story she built.
Authors I need to read:
Kate Thompson. She has also written under the name Pixie Pirelli, and I think that might be the best nom de plume ever. Chick-lit Reviews says that Thompson's The Kinsella Sisters is a good book to take on holiday. I'll keep that in mind for my summer vacations.
Cathy Kelly. Ok, so I apparently did read a Cathy Kelly novel in 2006, but I don't remember it at all. And yes, that would sound like a bad endorsement, but I read a number of really, really good books that same month, and it's easy to see why it might have been forgotten in my brain. In discussing Kelly's novel Just Between Us S. Krishna says, "Kelly writes with an intimacy that is hard to find in novels. She really is a master at character development."
Tana French. Honeybeast told me that French is a broody detective novelist and very place-evocative. Caribousmom read Into the Woods about a year ago and said that, "Tana French is a solid writer who spins a suspenseful thriller. Readers who enjoy well crafted mysteries and don't mind if all the ends are not neatly sewn up will love In The Woods."
Who are your favourite female Irish authors?