St. Patrick’s Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate! There are so many amazing Irish authors whose work has come to the U.S., and XOXOAD wants to call attention to just a few of them. While you may be familiar with Frank McCourt, Colm Toibin and the like, the writers below are working squarely in the women’s fiction tradition. Some are U.S. bestsellers, some are less well known, but the universality of their heroine’s stories can make the world feel a little closer together. Enjoy!

Bestselling writers like Maeve Binchy are famous for their crystalline descriptions of small-town life, with its supposedly “simple” ways that are never all that simple. Cathy Kelly’s played with similar settings, too, in books like the charming The House on Willow Street, set in seaside Avalon. But both of these ladies are equally at home in town, as we see in Irish Girls About Town. This trilogy of gems from Binchy, Kelly and the equally delightful Marian Keyes puts paid to the idea that all Irish people are twee little cottagers who don’t have cell phones.

 Irish Girls House on Willow Street

You may already be familiar with Cecelia Ahern–she arrived on U.S. shores with a bang when her first novel, P.S. I Love You hit it big in America. The story of a woman whose late husband leaves her a stack of notes to be opened each month after his death, it became an instant smash and eventually a movie with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. And did you know Ahern is the daughter of the former prime minister of Ireland? Wonder if he guessed his daughter would be the famous one in the family?

PS I Love You

There’s just something about the way Irish writers deal with tragedy–is it in their blood? We don’t know, but like Ahern, novelist Anna McPartlin has a way with tearing perfect couples apart. In her U.S. debut, Pack up the Moon, Emma is devastated when her fiance dies unexpectedly–but the way her friends rally around her, and the way McPartlin writes with raw honesty and laugh-out-loud joy, makes Emma’s journey to new happiness a pleasure to read. This is the first of McPartlin’s books to be published in the U.S., but we recommend all of them. Another especial favorite is As Sure as the Sun, which starts out with a perfect romcom moment as Harri has a panic attack that prevents her from heading down the aisle…for the second time! Her fiance takes it as a sign, and only Harri’s twin brother George can help her pick up the pieces. This book is unflinchingly honest about romance, but also deeply moving in its depiction of the brother-sister bond…and, oh yeah, still funny and poignant to boot!

 

 Pack up the Moon

apart from the crowdAs Sure As the Sun

Alexandra Gone

Now that we’ve whetted your appetite for some terrific Irish writers, we’re giving one of you a chance to try them on for free! We’re giving away free download codes for FOUR Anna McPartlin books (the two in this post, plus Apart from the Crowd and Alexandra, Gone) to one lucky winner…and all you have to do is answer this question in the comments: Who’s your favorite Irish writer, artist or performer?

Sorry, contest open to U.S. residents only! Please click here for complete contest rules.