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|The Country Girls Trilogy
by Edna O’Brien
With a foreword by Eimear McBride
Published by Faber & Faber 2019
This trilogy contains the novels The Country Girls, The Lonely Girls and Girls in Their Married Bliss, all originally published in the 1960s. In them we meet Caithleen (Kate) Brady and Baba Brennan, two country girls growing up in County Clare, mid-west rural Ireland. We join them on their journey of friendship, love, loss and their efforts to escape the ties of not just their rural lifestyle but also the ties that bind them as young women in a male-dominated world.
In The Country Girls Kate and Baba are dealing with the many issues of maturing from young girls to young women and moving from their countryside homes to bigger, not necessarily better, surroundings. It is a coming of age novel with a story that was all too common at the time it was written.
In The Lonely Girl the two country girls have entered their twenties and are living in a boarding house in Dublin. Kate is still on her romantic quest to find true love while Baba continues her search for adventure and fun. Their differences cause inevitable conflict and push them further apart.
The last book of the trilogy, Girls in Their Married Bliss, sees a change in the narrative style with two narrators alternating throughout. The girls move further afield to London and, despite the book’s title, continue to struggle to find the bliss they desire in life.
These novels were written in a time when being open about sexuality and the hardship women endured was not considered acceptable. They were, in fact, banned and some accounts claim that the priest in Edna O’Brien’s home parish burned the books on the church grounds. They were revolutionary and set O’Brien aside as being way ahead of her time. These novels, along with her subsequent works, are testament to her determination, both as a writer and a woman, to portray the female experience with honesty, realism and wit.
Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.
| Dirty Little Secrets by
Published by Quercus in 2019
“Death stalked the Vale. In every corner. Every whisper. They just
didn’t know it yet. Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to
want Olive Collins dead.
This book was a great read. Behind each front door is a web of lies and deceit. Each family member had their own flaws and secrets and differing opinions of their dead neighbour. Everyone had their own reasons to want Olive Collins dead but I had to read it to the last page to find out how Olive died! Really enjoyed it.
Recommended by a Kilrush Library staff member
|Dissolution by C J Sansom
Published by Macmillan in 2003
This is the first in the Matthew Shardlake series of books by Sansom. It’s set in 16th century and begins with the lawyer Matthew Shardlake being summoned to Westminster by his boss Thomas Cromwell. An investigator who had gone to a monastery to begin the dissolution of same has been brutally murdered. Matthew and his apprentice Mark Poer have to go to Scarnsea monastery to find out what happened and just who is responsible for the murder. Unfortunately, the murders don’t end there…
This was a really good read, a very nicely woven story and it was enjoyed by most of our bookclub. It gave a really good picture of society at that time – people were ruled by fear and there was so much uncertainty with all the changes that came with the dissolution of the Catholic Church in England. Shardlake was a likeable character who was fundamentally good, but naïve to a lot of evils done for advancement and status. This book sees him question things that he believes to be true, and has him change some of his views on the people he admired.
Recommended by Kilkee Library Bookclub
|Twelve Thousand Days by
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Published by Blackstaff Press 2018
This book is a memoir telling the story of the author’s thirty-year relationship with her late husband, folklorist Bo Almqvist. In it she eloquently deals with the topics of love, loss and grief and makes candid observations on Irish life and culture and the shortfalls of the Irish health system. She tells the familiar story of the one who is left behind after a partner leaves this world and the plethora of emotions and responsibilities tied in with that. She also gives a deep insight into the relationship she shared with her husband, going right back to when she met him in college, allowing the reader to see parts of their relationship that one might expect to remain private. In fact, the author emerges as a very private person but it makes the information she shares all the more honest and real. Dermot Bolger described this book, in The Irish Times, as being “a memoir nobody would wish to ever have to write but the journey of loss it charts that will chime with readers who know the double-edged price of love”.
Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.
|Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Published by Faber & Faber in 2018
How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family’s one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own.
In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town’s powerful men.
Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.
A Spark of Light by Jodi
A Spark of Light is set in a centre for women's reproductive health in Mississippi where a gunman has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage. The book unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people - the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment - to this point. And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.
“As usual Picoult tackles controversial subject coaxing us out of our prejudices and preconceptions and invites us to things through the eyes of those with different opinions to our own. A very timely book in light of the change in abortion legislation in Ireland.” - a Clare County Library staff member
|The importance of being Aisling
by Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen.
Published by Gill Books in 2018
Aisling is 29 and she's still a complete Aisling. After a tough year, things between herself and John are back on track, and life with Sadhbh and Elaine in their Dublin apartment is more craic than ever. But when a shock change means moving Down Home might be her only option, Aisling is thrown. Can she give up the sophistication of brunch and unlimited Pinot Greej? Will she and Mammy kill each other living back under the same roof? And where does that leave her and John? When a girls' trip to Vegas gives Aisling some unexpected confidence, she decides it's time to grab Ballygobbard by the horns. Hilarious funny – book number 3 is on the way.
Recommended by a Clare County Library staff member.
|The Family Tree by
Published by Harper in 2007
“This novel is a tense family drama with a few twists along the way. A story of two families looking into their past to get answers for the present. The Family Tree is a compelling read and makes it hard to put the book down until you get to the last page.”
Recommended by a Kilmihil Library member
The Sealwoman’s Gift
by Sally Magnusson
This debut novel by Sally Magnusson, writer and broadcaster, is based on real events from 1627 when Barbary pirates raided Iceland and abducted 400 men, women and children. These people were brought to Algiers to be sold as slaves. One abducted family consisted of a pastor, his pregnant wife and two children. This is the fictionalised account of Asta, the pastor’s wife. The story tells how Asta copes with separation from her homeland and family, life in the harem, exposure to another culture and her relationship with Cilleby, the slave-owner. Asta is a storyteller and the Icelandic sagas provide comfort and escapism as she adapts to her new life. Historical accounts remain from this time including one from Asta’s husband Olafur but the voices of women were silent. Magnusson choose the female voice to look at the themes of exile, slavery and motherhood and Asta’s story is engrossing and memorable.
In 1631, the village of Baltimore, Co Cork was also raided by Barbary pirates. The Baltimore villagers were also sold as slaves in Algiers. That story can be found in Des Ekin’s ‘The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates’.
Recommended by Dolores, a Library HQ staff member.
Snap by Belinda Bauer
On a stifling summer’s day Jack & his two sisters
sit in their broken down car waiting for their mother who has gone for
help to come back for them. But she never comes back and life as the children
know it has changed forever.
Recommended by Dianne, a Kilrush Library staff member.
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
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
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
|Don't Close Your Eyes by
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
|I am Watching You by Teresa
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.
"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
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.
“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
“This book wasn’t my usual choice of reads,
I’m more a thriller reader!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
|A Gentleman in Moscow by
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
|Orphan Train by Christina
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 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
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
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
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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