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Recommended Reads - Fiction

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler  

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Published by Chatto and Windus in 2018

When does one learn to live life on one’s own terms, and not on the terms of those supposedly our nearest and dearest? This is the dilemma faced by Willa Drake in Anne Tyler’s new novel though she is largely unaware of it for most of the book. Self-awareness and self-realization comes slowly and painfully to Willa at the age of sixty-one and at no little personal cost.

We first encounter Willa as an eleven year old child in Pennsylvania and we later see her as a college student in Illinois in the late seventies before her married life in Southern California. A second marriage takes her to Tucson, Arizona. Fate, chance and mishap takes her to Baltimore in 2017, when Willa is 61, and she begins unexpectedly to feel a sense of true family, community, belonging and self-awareness.

"Written with Tyler’s usual elegance and guile, Clock Dance is a heart-warming and life-affirming study of an ordinary American life with an engaging cast of characters – not all of them likeable – and the lessons to be learned when we finally wish to live our lives to suit ourselves and not be taken for granted by others". - a Local Studies staff member

Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearse   Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearse
Published by Picador in 2018

Emmeline Lake works in a couple of part time jobs in 1940s London. One of these jobs is to answer phonecalls after German bombs are dropped on the city. She applies for another job in a newspaper to fulfil her dream of becoming a war correspondent but is disappointed to be assigned to assist the paper’s agony aunt. But Emmeline finds a way to expand her role!

"This funny book provides a great insight into the everyday lives of women in London during World War 2". - a Sixmilebridge Library member

Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon   Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon
Published by Corvus in 2017

I read this books on Borrowbox – the library’s eBook service. This was my first read from Holly Seddon and I loved it - a thriller with a twist - unlikeable adult characters that ruin their children’s futures with their selfishness. I found it hard to put down and was grabbing a quick read whenever I got the chance. I have another of Holly Seddon’s books on reserve on Borrowbox! - a Kilmihil Library staff member

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll   I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Published by Thomas and Mercer in 2017

The opening chapter sets the scene for this novel. A woman on a train journey overhears two males strike up a conversation with two teenage girls. She debates warning these girls to be careful of their new found friends, decides to say nothing and concentrates instead on her own journey ahead. She awakes to terrible news the following morning and the fallout of her decision begins.
The story is told from a different character’s perspective in each chapter and slowly the truth comes out.

"This book is a real page turner, and I read it in two sittings. I really enjoyed it and have ordered more books by this author who I had never heard of before". - a Kilrush Library staff member

Mermaid & Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar   Mermaid & Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Published by Penguin Random House in 2018

Based on her dissertation this book has received a lot of hype from publishers. But it is completely merited – as it is a very well researched book – the story developed from a ‘real mermaid’ found in the British Museum. The author began writing fiction about unusual objects that she found in museums where she worked. But her research is evident throughout the book even down to the typeset that she chose.

The story begins with Jonah Hancock, a merchant, being given a mermaid in 1785 London. He decides to put it on display and meets up with Mrs Chappell who runs a brothel who wants to get it for her clients. She entreats Angelica Neal, one of her former girls, the heroine, to try to entice the mermaid away from Jonah.
The parallels between the women in the novel and the mermaid are obvious. They are trapped in their worlds but do their best to improve their situation by using their wiles. These are well rounded characters – earthy, bawdy and likeable and the story goes at a great pace.

“This is great historical fiction with similar to Austen & Dickens. I would totally recommend.” - a DeValera Library staff member

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth  

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Published by Hodder in 2018

“This book wasn’t my usual choice of reads, I’m more a thriller reader!
It had a feel of “Desperate Housewives” with the setting in a small suburb of Pleasant Court, three women each with their own secrets and an obsession with their new neighbour! I oved how the story went from present day to past events, made me laugh out loud and then tear up for the characters, who all had their own struggles despite the perfect happy family image that their neighbours saw.

A very enjoyable read, will be looking for more books by this author.” - a Kilrush Library staff member

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park  

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park
Published by Bloomsbury in 2018

A frozen winter setting with a father embarking on a roadtrip to bring his sick son home from a snowed-in Sunderland University where all the Christmas flights home are grounded, this book brings the father on his own personal journey through the struggles of a family in a crisis and his own inner turmoil.

“Beautifully written book, with many references to historical events that take us all on this personal journey. Loved this book!” - a Kilrush Library staff member

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie   Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Published by Bloomsbury in 2017

Home Fire is told through the viewpoints of its 5 main characters. Isma Pasha, a young woman who is finally free from the responsibility of raising her younger siblings after their mother's death; her twin siblings Aneeka and Parvaiz; Karamat Lone, a powerful British Muslim politician and his son Eamonn. The lives of the two families become inextricably, devastatingly entwined when Parvaiz decides to join ISIS after discovering that his absent father died en route to Guantánamo.

Home Fire is a novel about love, family loyalty and sacrifice. It offers an insight into the lives of Muslims in a world that often regards them with suspicion, and into how young men can so easily become radicalised.

“It took a while to get into this book but overall we found it an absorbing read.” - Kilkee Library Bookclub

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney  

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney
Published by Sphere in 2018

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

“Excellent book. Great read” – a Sixmilebridge reader

Dark Pines by Will Dean  

Dark Pines by Will Dean
Published by Point Blank in 2018

A thriller set in Sweden. This is Dean’s debut novel, told through its reporter heroine Tuva Moodyson, a young deaf woman working for the local paper. A pair of eyeless hunters are found dead in the woods – a chilling read, with a twist in the tale.

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin  

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
Published by Faber in 2010

Willy Vlautin's third novel offers an insight into an America rarely seen in Hollywood movies. Vlautin's America is a place of deep poverty and isolation where the ‘American Dream’ doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Lean on Pete is seldom heartwarming but very real. Vlautin’s prose is sparse and beautiful but it is his characters that really stop you in your tracks. An excellent book.” – Scariff Library Bookclub

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney   Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Published by Faber & Faber in 2017

This modern story is centred on the character of Frances, a young Trinity College student and those that orbit around her. She is an aspiring writer and now performs Spoken Word Poetry with her close friend Bobbi. Bobbi is an anarchic character who prides herself on her non-conformity yet lives on inherited wealth. Ex-lovers, Frances and Bobbi continue to be entwined in each other’s lives. They meet photographer/writer Melissa who offers to do a profile of them. They become increasingly involved in Melissa’s adult world, meeting her actor husband Nick and becoming embroiled in their complicated marriage. Set in Dublin with a sojourn in France, the characters inhabit the Arts world and scene settings include plays, book launches and poetry performances.

"The book gives an insight into the world of young Irish people – sexually liberated, educated, articulate yet pressured to “act unfazed”. Conversations often centre on culture, art, friendship and politics and take place through emails and instant messaging as well as conventional interactions. An emotionally-intelligent read, Frances belongs to the world of Dublin literati but still faces battles with low self-esteem, parental concerns and physical illness". - a Clare County Library staff member

Sally Rooney will perform with Mary Morrissy at The Friday Night Festival Club at the Temple Gate Hotel at 10pm on Friday 2nd March as part of the 2018 Ennis Bookclub Festival.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult   Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2016

Jodi Picoult tackles the issue of race and prejudice in this absorbing read. Ruth Jefferson is a maternity nurse in a Connecticut hospital. She is asked to do a routine checkup on a newborn baby but the parents ask for her to be reassigned because they do not want her to touch their child. Why? Because they are white supremacists and Ruth is African-American. When the baby dies, Ruth is blamed and charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public attorney, takes her case and the story encompasses the trial and how it affects Ruth, her family and Turk, the baby's father.

'The story is a topical one with current race relations in the US and provides an interesting glimpse of how ingrained racism can be and how the beliefs of white supremacy continue to prevail. Jodi Picoult has often tackled modern issues in her books but this tale of racism is a thought-provoking read.' - a Shannon Library bookclub member

Can You Keep a Secret by Karen Perry   Can You Keep a Secret by Karen Perry
Published by Penguin in 2017

Twenty years since Lindsey has seen her best friend Rachel or set foot in Thornbury Hall - the now crumbling home of the Bagenal Family - where they spent so much time as teenagers. Since Patrick Bagenal's eighteenth birthday party, the night everything changed. Patrick has decided on one last hurrah before closing the doors of his family home for good. It’s not long before secrets begin to float to the surface. But some secrets should never be told.

‘This book was a real page turner, great plot and characters, kept my interest to the very last page. I thoroughly enjoyed it!’ - a Kilrush Library staff member
The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria   The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria
Published by Harper Collins in 2017

It’s been fifteen years since Stella last met George, an old flame from her schooldays. Despite the relationship ending badly, something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the class reunion invite, knowing that George will possibly be there. There is still a spark between them and despite the fact that George is now happily married to Ness, they have an affair. Thus begins a roller-coaster of ups and down for all involved with unforeseen and tragic consequences.

‘A gripping read from start to finish with twists and turns throughout. Once you start reading this book you will not want to put it down.’ - a Miltown Malbay Library staff member

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr   All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by Harper Collins 2015

A beautifully written novel about a six year old blind girl called Marie Laure and a boy called Werner. The story revolves around how their paths converge during World War II. Marie Laure and her father take refuge in the Brittany coast when the Nazis invade Paris. Werner on the other hand is an orphan and is gifted at repairing and fixing radios which enables him to track the Resistance. After travelling through Hitler Youth and into Russia, it is in Saint-Malo that Marie Laure and Werner eventually meet.

‘A truly inspiring book from cover to cover. It captures the complexities of World War II and the love that survives hardship’ – a Miltown Malbay bookclub member

The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam   The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam
Published by Faber and Faber 2017

This beautifully written book tells the story of religious intolerance in modern day Pakistan. Pakistan is deeply divided along religious lines of Muslin and Christian, but is also divided from its nearby neighbour of India. Suspicion and extreme brutality are constant features of life here. Yet, Aslam, writes exquisite, deeply moving stories of love and loyalty despite the visceral violence present in all segments of society.

The story opens with Nargis and her husband, Massud attending the opening of a new library. Shots ring out and Massud is killed. Under pressure from Pakistani secret intelligence, Nargis fears her deepest secret will be revealed. She, her surrogate daughter Helen and Imran, a mysterious stranger seek refuge on an island. Here love, hope and resilience blossom despite all.

‘I found this book to be an enlightening read as I knew so little about Pakistan and its divided society. It is also beautifully written filled with visual images such as the paper buildings hanging in the architect’s library.’ – a DeValera Library staff member

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne   The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Published by Doubleday in 2017

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

‘This is a very emotive book, gives a greater understanding of social pressures. You will laugh and cry and you won’t want to put it down!!!!’ - a Lisdoonvarna Library staff member

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles   A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Published by Hutchinson in 2016

On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. However, instead of being taken to his usual suite as a guest, he is instead led to an attic room and is sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. Thus begins the story of his life inside the small confines of this room.

‘A wonderfully written book, to be read slowly and savoured and most enjoyable for anyone interested in Russian history.’ - Miltown Malbay Bookclub

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline   Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Published William Morrow in 2013

This was an amazing story covering the past and the present of two orphans. Molly is living with foster parents, Dina and Ralph. She is caught 'stealing' a book from the library and has to serve 20 hours on a service project. Her project is to help 90 year old Vivian clean out her attic. Vivian and Molly talk about Vivian's life in America, her journey starting out travelling across the Atlantic Ocean on a ship to Ellis Island. Her family dies in a fire and so she is put on an 'Orphan Train', a train full of orphans looking for foster families. While cleaning out the attic, Molly takes a visit into Vivian's past, learning about her journey on the Orphan Train.

‘A really good book based on a true story – an eye opener.’ – Sixmilebridge Library Bookclub

  Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Published by Tinder Press 2017

This is a story of friendship and love and the power of art to make a difference in a life. The opening narration is by 46-year-old Ellis. His mother had a great appreciation of art which she passed on to Ellis. However, following her death when Ellis was still a teenager, his father refused to entertain his plan of becoming an artist. Ellis now works night shifts in an Oxford car plant and is a widower living a lonely life.
The second narrator is Michael, best friend of Ellis since childhood. He tells of his life in London and his memories of their special times together, including a trip to the south of France where, for a brief period, they were lovers.

‘The writing is powerful, the story is poignant and the language is beautiful. You’ll want to read it in one sitting but it’ll stay with you for far longer.’ - a Clare County Library staff member

The Good People by Hannah Kent   The Good People by Hannah Kent
Published by Picador in 2017

Nora struggles to care for her grandson following the death of her daughter and her husband. Mary arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Set in 1820s Kerry and based on a true story, this book shows the depths to which people in desperate circumstances are driven.

‘A compelling, though disturbing, book. Very atmospheric. People who enjoyed Burial Rites will not be disappointed.’ - a reader in DeValera Library, Ennis.

The Witness by Simon Kernick   The Witness by Simon Kernick
Published by Century in 2016

When Jane Kinnear sees her lover being murdered, she suddenly finds herself in danger. Taken to an anonymous police safe house, it soon becomes clear that her lover was an MI5 informant with important information about an imminent terrorist attack.

‘A very entertaining book. The plot is superb and keeps the reader glued to the pages right to the end. I will be looking for more books by this author.’ - a reader in Tulla Library.

 Coffin Road by Peter May   Coffin Road by Peter May
Published by Quercus in 2016

A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive and borderline hypothermic. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road.

‘Great read – gripping from start to finish.’ - a reader in Sixmilebridge Library.

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