Contest! The Lit of the Irish

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.

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Irish Girls About Town

Irish Girls About Town

Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly

She did WHAT? Three wise and witty writers tell three wicked stories in this delicious anthology sure to keep those Irish eyes smilin'...and readin'.

P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You

Cecilia Ahern

Would a letter every month from your late spouse be a treasured reminder of the love you shared, or a temptation to sink into grief again?

Pack Up the Moon

Pack Up the Moon

Anna McPartlin

McPartlin manages to make grief at once heart-rending and funny, which often seems to be a particularly Irish skill. This is her U.S. debut, and a great place to start with her work.

As Sure As the Sun

As Sure As the Sun

Anna McPartlin

Harri loves her fiance, James--so why has she TWICE had a panic attack on her intended wedding day? James isn't sticking around to see if third time's the charm, so it's up to Harri's twin brother George to take her under his wing. But when they uncover a family secret that could be at the root of Harri's problems, will it tear even the twins apart?



10 comments so far

  1. kateivan

    While Maeve Binchy is my favorite Irish writer, my favorite performer from the Emerald Isle is Glen Hansard, who founded the indie rock band The Frames. Hansard also acts; if you haven’t seen his star turn in the film “Once,” you are missing out. His song from that movie, “Falling Slowly”, co-written with co-star Markéta Irglová, won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007. He’s a talented fella!

  2. lrhubble

    I am going to go with Liam Neeson. 🙂 There is one Irish man to really heat things up. LOL 🙂

  3. George Bernard shaw! Love his work

  4. Liam Neeson

  5. Michael Scott. His fantasy series is one of my favorites.

  6. bsimonbud

    Love Ireland. My favorite performers are the group called Celtic Thunder. A wonderful bunch of Irish men who can really sing.

  7. Bookworm2005

    James Joyce, Keats, Irish writers of prose and poetry have been weaving their words for many years. Now in the genres of romance and urban fantasy, they reap Irish folklore to bring us fascinating tales of the dark and light fae, interacting with humanity modern times. I am not Irish( but I do have red hair), but I absolutely love the music, and the magical tales and hope to visit there someday.

  8. I would have to say my favorite Irish author is Maeve Binchy. So sorry she died recently. I loved and can never read Tara Road enough times. First read it with Oprah’s old book club. Loved The Scarlet Feather. Made me want to cater…. Have read other titles. Mind has blanked out. Plus, I don’t think you want a long post. Thanks for entering me. By the way, are all Irish men and women as friendly and talkative as Maeve Binchy?:)

    Oh, if Nora Roberts is Irish, I would have to include her, the master Irish romance and suspence author. Love her.

  9. I’ve been reading for over 35 years and Maeve Binchy has been one of my Favorites – I will treasure every novel I own of hers.

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