Six Books From Ireland for St. Patrick's Day
I'll admit, I generally avoid novels in the magical realism genre. In the past, I've found the added element of magic in a story otherwise based in reality more irritating than interesting. That's just me.
Yet, when I came across Himself by Jess Kidd, I thought I'd try again. I'm very glad I did. Perhaps it was because this story is set in a small village in Ireland, where the presence of magic is somehow more believable. In this story, the fantastical elements added a wonderfully humorous and appealing addition.
On the surface, Himself is a murder mystery. Set in Ireland in 1976, the handsome and charming Mahony returns to his birthplace of Mulderrig to find out the truth about his mother's mysterious disappearance. As he asks questions, Mahony begins to reveal some of the town's best-kept secrets. Dark secrets that someone does not want revealed. Yet, there is more to this story than a whodunit. There are the quirky residents of the village of Mulderigg, including the aging actress, Mrs. Cauley, who came to town many years ago and refused to leave. There are also the ghosts. Mahony can communicate with ghosts. When the living are reluctant to answer questions, the dead can be quite helpful when solving a mystery.
Here are some more books by Irish authors that won, or were nominated for, awards in 2016:
Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor
When Dolly Lane starts working as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, she takes a step closer to the life she has always wanted. When she becomes a songwriter’s ‘muse’, she finds herself in the midst of London’s exhilarating theatre scene. In time, Dolly must face reality. She must choose between two men, and between a life she has always known and a life that she has only dreamed about.
Girl from the Savoy was nominated for The Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2016.
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Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
The last thing Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons expected was to meet with a drug-addicted prostitute. They certainly didn't expect to kill her and bury her in their garden. When they find themselves in this unfortunate situation, Lydia does all she can to protect their social standing, while Andrew begins to fall apart. When their son, Laurence, becomes obsessed with the dead girl's family, it is this last unexpected event may lead to their undoing.
Lying in Wait won the RTÉ Radio 1's The Ryan Tubridy Show Listeners' Choice Award and was nominated for the Books are my Bag Crime Fiction Book of the Year Award.
Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern
Deep in the woods in south-west Ireland, a young woman lives alone, forever secluded from the world. When Solomon stumbles into Laura's solitary existence, her life is turned on its head. Now in Dublin, she must face a world desperate to understand her. Will the world allow her to spread her wings or will it trap her in a gilded cage?
Lyrebird was nominated for The Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2016.
The Trespasser by Tana French
French's Dublin Murder Squad series returns with new detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran. The duo find a murdered young woman who looks familiar to Detective Conway. While she tries to figure out where she has seen the victim before, Conway must battle bullying colleagues and deal with a ghost from her past.
The Trespasser won the Books are my Bag Crime Fiction Book of the Year Award for 2016.
Making it Up as I Go Along by Marian Keyes
A collection of hilarious, poignant and moving essays from popular author Marian Keyes. Her humorous tales of surviving modern life will have you both wincing in recognition and crying with laughter.
Making it Up as I Go Along won the Ireland AM Popular Non-fiction Book of the YearAward for 2016.
For more Irish Book Awards, have a look at the Bord Gáis Energy Book Awards website.