I think I have mentioned before how I tend to be a 'seasonal' reader. Sometimes I think it is just an excuse to add a new book to my reading pile, but really there are certain stories I like reading at certain times of the year--does that sound odd? When it is really hot, stories set in the freezing Arctic and conversely I have been thinking longingly of beach-setting books all winter long. Sometimes I cave into these urges and sometimes not, but I do think I feel like and will indeed read a book or two of Irish Literature in honor of it now being March and St. Patrick's Day not too far off. I suspect I will only manage one novel or maybe two if they are short and I might try and throw in a short story or two.
And because you know I can never resist making a good list of possible reads, here is a baker's dozen of books (mostly) by Irish writers or set in Ireland.
Walk the Blue Fields: Stories by Claire Keegan -- "Walk the Blue Fields is a breathtaking collection from one of Ireland’s greatest talents, and a resounding articulation of all the yearnings of the human heart." Hopefully I will be reading some of her stories. I have already started reading this one, and indeed it appears to be a page-turner so far!
All Summer by Claire Kilroy -- "'A compelling read. The surprises are real and yet so subtly tracked ...It's a thriller, a confession and a love story framed by a meditation on the arts.' Margaret Reynolds, The Times."
The Visitor by Maeve Brennan -- "Written in the mid-1940s, it is a story of Dublin and of the unkind, ungenerous, emotionally distant side of the Irish temper. This haunting novella stands with her greatest short stories."
1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llywelyn -- This is the first of, I'm actually not sure how many books following a group of characters through Irish history to contemporary times.
Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden -- Everyone I know who has read this has loved it. Enough of a recommendation for me! "Set over a single midsummer's day, Molly Fox's Birthday is a mischievous, insightful novel about a turning point--a moment when past and future suddenly appear in a new light." I have her newest novel, too.
Love and Summer by William Trevor -- "In spare, exquisite prose, master storyteller William Trevor presents a haunting love story about the choices of the heart, and the passions and frustrations of three lives during one long summer."
The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black -- "With its vivid, intense evocation of 1950s Dublin, and intricate, psychologically complex storyline, The Silver Swan is "even more engrossing than Christine Falls (Entertainment Weekly)." I really liked the first Quirke mystery and really must get around to reading the next one.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin -- "Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s magnificent seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable, and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be sucked back into it."
On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry -- "Spanning nearly seven decades, Sebastian Barry’s extraordinary fifth novel explores memory, war, family ties, love, and loss, distilling the complexity and beauty of life into his haunting prose."
The Dowry by Walter Keady -- "In The Dowry, Walter Keady spins a winsome tale in the best traditions of Irish literature, applying a wealth of charm and graceful wit to this story of love, money, and marriage."
The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna -- "The Misremembered Man is a beautifully rendered portrait of life in rural Ireland which charms and delights with its authentic characters and gentle humor. This vivid portrayal of the universal search for love brings with it a darker tale, heartbreaking in its poignancy."
The Woman of the House by Alice Taylor -- "Taylor's gentle and affectionate view of her homeland is richly refreshing. - Library Journal."
The Copper Beach by Maeve Binchy -- "In the Irish town of Schancarrig, the young people carve their initials--and those of their loves-into the copper beech tree in front of the schoolhouse. But not even Father Gunn, the parish priest, who knows most of what goes on behind Shancarrig's closed doors, or Dr. Jims, the village doctor, who knows all the rest, realizes that not everything in the placid village is what it seems." It's been ages since I have read anything by Maeve Binchy, but I think she is a wonderful storyteller and I have lots of her books on hand--any would do, I suspect!
Uh oh, I think I have made this worse for myself. I hadn't realized I have so much unread Irish Literature on my shelves and this is just barely the tip of the iceberg. I could have added one of the many books by Edna O'Brien or one of my unread Roddy Doyle novels. There is Jennifer Johnston or Tana French's newest or maybe Anne Enright. Now the dilemma--they all sound good, so how do I even begin to choose?
And the inevitable question for you? Do you have a favorite Irish author?