Irish at Heart Recommends: Six Great Reads

Happy Book Giving Day to all of my Irish at Heart family! I think this is such a lovely notion, to set aside a moment when we can all actively share our love of literature with one another. I absolutely love reading, but sometimes I find myself in a bit of a rut – not knowing which book to pick up next. It is for this very reason that I treasure recommendations from friends – as I can carry their passion into the very first page I read!

I’m also rather partial to sharing my own recent reads, mostly so I can talk about the plot and characters with my nearest and dearest to compare thoughts! While I probably don’t have enough books in my recently read pile to send one to each of our lovely subscribers, I thought I could compromise by sharing some of them here – all by Irish authors of course!

Looking for a bigger pile? Head on over to our An Irish Novel for Every Reader blog – for even more Irish at Heart recommendations.

 

Her Kind – Niamh Boyce

 

Long before the events of Salem Massachusetts, witch hunts were taking place in Kilkenny some 600 years ago. Niamh Boyce dives into the extraordinary lives of Petronelle de Midia and Alyce Kylter – the first two woman to be accused of witchcraft in Ireland.

Alyce Kylter, the wealthy heiress and money lender, takes childhood friend Petronelle and her young daughter in from the dangers of the wilderness to reside as servants in her Kilkenny castle. However, as Alyce’s fourth husband dies under less than clear circumstances, powerful fingers are pointed in her direction, igniting a will to survive that knows no mercy…

While this is most certainly a work of fiction (a captivating one at that), it draws on the lives and circumstances of these very real historical women, imaging the chain of events, feelings and relationships that led to the very first burning at the stake in Europe. It’s a powerful read that draws you into the flickering flames and dark secrets of 14th century Ireland, and these women will play on your mind long after you’ve turned over the last page.

 

Milkman – Anna Burns

 

 

Milkman is narrated by an unnamed 18-year old girl who lives her life amidst the troubles of Northern Ireland. Despite her own lack of interest in politics or gossip, she becomes embroiled in a dangerous web of allegiances and rumours, all stemming from her supposed association with the “Milkman” - a senior member of the paramilitary.

The action of the novel is told through a uniquely interesting narrative that verges upon stream of consciousness, but not so much so that the plot gets too lost amongst the thoughts of the character.

This is certainly not one for the faint-hearted, and those who pick up Anna Burns’ masterpiece should be aware that they have a challenge on their hands, but one that is extremely rewarding. It is exciting, thought-provoking, devastating, and hilarious in equal measures – lending a truly immersive experience for any reader.

 

 

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High Fire – Eoin Colfer

 

 

If you’ve read along with my previous book blogs, you will already be aware of the fabulous fantasy world of Artemis Fowl, as written by Eoin Colfer. While the escapades of the criminal teenage mastermind and his stealthy supernatural companions are aimed at children while loved by adults – High Fire shoots a little bit beyond the PG-13 rating.

Vern is a vodka swilling, La-Z-Boy reclining, flash-dance loving dragon, who lives in solitude amongst the alligators of the Louisiana Swamp as the very last of his fire breathing kind. The drunken dragon is perfectly content with this set-up, until his path crosses with a teenage trouble magnet known as Squib Moreau, who has accidentally trod upon a web of cop corruption.

What ensues is a hilarious, rollicking, fire-breathing adventure – full of quick quips, unexpected twists, and some rather creative curse words.

 

 

 

John Boyne - The Heart's Invisible Furies

 

Author of the devastating “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, John Boyne takes his readers on an emotional rollercoaster with his 2017 novel “The Heart's Invisible Furies.”

One man’s journey through Ireland’s modern history will break your heart and lift your spirit in equal measures, as he battles through narrow minded societal expectations and circumstances in search of his own happiness.

Cyril’s narration begins in the womb and ends as a 70-year-old man; one who was born gay in an Ireland which saw homosexuality punishable by law, and lives to see his country vote in favour of gay marriage. You be appalled at how he has been treated, chuckle at his dry humour, and above all find real human compassion amongst the pages of this incredible book.

 

 

Faith Hogan - The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club

 

 

The latest novel from best-selling Faith Hogan is a warming tale of living life to the fullest – no matter what stage you might find yourself in.

Hogan binds the lives of three women together with a compelling and emotional narrative which unfolds from various different perspectives in the little village of Ballycove. The characters are deftly written so as to be intrinsically relatable, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the highs and lows of these women’s lives – as they in turn wash away their worries in the bracing waters of the Irish Seas.

If you’re looking for a gentle read to pass away the evening hours, or an uplifting tale for your holiday novel – then you’ve struck gold with this instantly likeable and well-written little number.

 

John le Carré – The Spy Who Came in From The Cold

Yes. With Irish citizenship being secured just months before his death - I am absolutely counting David Moore Cornwell (A.K.A John le Carré) as an Irish author. I am utterly delighted to be adding his prolific repertoire to Ireland’s bookshelves, and to celebrate, I might even read the entire George Smiley collection again, starting with “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.”

 

Picture Credits - theguardian.com

 

Technically, Mr Smiley featured in two earlier novels – Call for the Dead, and A Murder of Quality, but as both of these were more mystery fiction they aren’t always counted as part of the famous espionage series. You won’t find the rippling muscles and heroic explosions associated with James Bond within these pages with Smiley written as a deliberate foil to 007: a podgy, bespectacled career officer, with a penchant for German poetry and an unfortunate habit of being cuckolded by his wife.

 

 

He also happens to be in possession of the most ingenious mind ever known to MI6, and his cunning is all the more effective in the face of those who underestimate him…

Technically, sharing suggests participation on both sides… so if you’ve got anyof your own Irish novel recomendations I’d simply love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below.  

 

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