During the lockdown, I came upon books in all sorts of ways. Once I had exhausted my supply of library books, I started swapping books with my neighbour, who was in turn, supplying half the street with books! Our very own neighbourhood library. And this was how I chanced upon Irish writer, Andrew Hughes’s, second novel – “The Coroner’s Daughter”. The book is set in Dublin in 1816, known as the year without a summer. A dust cloud (a result of a volcanic eruption in the East) has covered Western Europe leading to freezing temperatures, a permanent fog, and visible spots on the sun. Religious fervour is on the rise, and there are those who say the end of the world is nigh.Against this rather eery setting, a nursemaid is arrested for the murder of her newborn child, only to be found dead days later. This is followed by the discovery of a second body in Blessington Basin. Natural causes or a murderer on the loose? Someone is hiding something, and our heroine, Abigail Lawless is determined to find out who.Abigail is a great character. Only daughter of the city coroner, she is curious, clever, and a scientist at heart. Not character traits that were much admired in a woman in the 19th century. But this is a dangerous game she is playing, and there are those who wish to silence her for good.This book is a real page-turner, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical crime fiction. I particularly loved the descriptions of Dublin in the 19th century, and it was fascinating to read about areas of the city which are now utterly changed. Indeed, Phibsboro Library is just minutes away from much of the action of this novel!The Coroner’s Daughter is available to download on Borrowbox, or you can order it from your local library. Submitted by Lara in Phibsboro Library.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
Charles Dickens, one of the most popular and accessible novelists died 150 years ago in June 1870. His novels are still popular and they have been adapted for television and cinema. They have been turned into popular musicals on stage and screen. Many novelists have acknowledged his influence and expressed admiration for his novels.At the age of twelve he was sent to work in a blacking factory by his affectionate but feckless parents. From these unpromising beginnings, he rose to scale all the social and literary heights, entirely through his own efforts. When he died, the world mourned, and he was buried - against his wishes - in Westminster Abbey. Yet the brilliance concealed a divided character: a republican, he disliked America; sentimental about the family in his writings, he took up passionately with a young actress; usually generous, he cut off his impecunious children.Dickens created an array of memorable characters - Miss Havisham dressed in her wedding finery every day since she was jilted at the altar in Great Expectations. The contrasting characters Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. In David Copperfield, the novel he described as his favorite child, Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. One of the most swiftly moving and unified of Charles Dickens’s great novels, Oliver Twist is also famous for its re-creation through the splendidly realized figures of Fagin, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the evil Bill Sikes of the vast London underworld of pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Victorian critics took Dickens to task for rendering this world in such a compelling, believable way, but readers over the last 150 years have delivered an alternative judgment by making this story of the orphaned Oliver Twist one of its author’s most loved works.His novels were originally published in instalments in weekly or monthly magazines. This is the reason there are some dramatic “cliffhanger” scenes which made the reader want to know what happened in the next instalment. This helps to make them “pageturners” for modern readers. (It also allowed Dickens to get feedback from his readers about what they thought of his stories and characters before he had finished his novel!)There are 24 ebook and eaudiobook copies of Dickens’ novels available on Borrowbox and you will also find there an excellent biography of the author by Claire Tomalin.Claire Tomalin is the award-winning author of eight highly acclaimed biographies, including: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World; Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens; Mrs Jordan's Profession; Jane Austen: A Life; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self; Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man and, most recently, Charles Dickens: A Life. A former literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, she is married to the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.Submitted by Philip in Finglas Library.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
Sebastian Barry is an Irish novelist, playwright, and poet, he was named laureate for Irish Fiction 2019-2021. He is noted for his literary writing style and is one of Ireland’s finest writers. His book Secret Scripture won the 2008 Costa Book of the year. He also won the Costa Book of the year in 2017 for his book, Days without End, becoming the first novelist to win the prestigious prize twice. Each of his novels imagines and expands the history of one of the author's ancestors and he mines his colourful family history for stories.Secret Scripture by Sebastian BarryThis is the story of Roseanne McNulty who is nearing her hundredth birthday in the mental hospital where she was committed as a young woman. The hospital is about to close and her psychiatrist finds himself intrigued by the story of his elderly patient. This book charts her life. The author writes about loss, broken promises, and failed hopes. This is a beautiful and disturbing book to read. It’s an astonishing story told with sadness and grace and illuminates the history of the skeleton in the cupboard, it is an incredibly moving and emotional story of love, grief, religion, and life in Ireland. This is a novel about the damage done by men to women and also to themselves. The act of telling her story is redemptive.The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty by Sebastian BarryThis is a story of a man with good intentions that have some disastrous consequences. He is exiled from a country that rejects him but which he loves nonetheless. Eneas McNulty lives his life in the shadow of the sentence haunted by his memories and by strong ties to a place that he is barred from forever. He is forced to flee Sligo, his friends and family. This is a heartbreaking story about the gentle Eneas McNulty caught up in the deadly politics that came with Irish Independence. Barry does a great job of creating the atmosphere of the time following the end of World War One. The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty recounts the history of a lost man. The author vividly creates Eneas’s warm humanity and his tenderness is powerfully portrayed and casts a gentle light on the hardship around him.Days Without End by Sebastian BarryWinner of the Costa Book Award this story is about two young Irish men leaving the great Irish famine behind them to travel to America. Thomas McNulty takes us through American history with his best friend, and partner, John Cole - joining the army to make a living. They experience hardship together where hunger and no shelter is hard to bear but they survive and grow deeper in love. It’s a violent lyrical vision of America in the making. Sebastian Barry has created complex individuals who find themselves caught up in the horrors of war. It’s a masterpiece of atmosphere and language It’s a novel you will not forget. There are two main threads in this novel: the love story between Thomas and John, and America.Submitted by Geraldine in Drumcondra Library.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.
‘Alone in Berlin’ and ‘A Whole Life’ - books by German authors.
Our colleague Charlotte is sharing her views on two books by German authors. I always try to get keep in touch with literary developments in Germany which is where I am from. Lately, I have come across two wonderful German novels, one originally published in 1947, the other in 2014. Both celebrate the lives of ordinary people but in very different ways.Hans Fallada (1893 – 1947) was a bestselling German writer during the early 1930s. He published a number of well-known novels about ordinary people trying to get on with life. Eventually, he fell foul of the Nazis and, despite trying to keep a low profile, was under constant threat of persecution. Fallada died in 1947, two years after the end of the Nazi rule. Alone in Berlin, his last novel, was published posthumously. It is one of the first anti-Nazi novels published after World War II. Largely forgotten until re-discovered and translated into English in 2009, it became an international bestseller more than 60 years after its publication.Inspired by the real-life story of a Berlin couple who were executed in 1943 for treason, the novel describes life under the Nazi regime in Germany and the resistance of ordinary people. When Anna and Otto Quangel’s son is killed in World War II, the quiet and unassuming couple decide to call on others to resist the tyranny of the Nazi regime. They distribute postcards with anti-Hitler messages around Berlin. Soon they are being tracked by the Gestapo. Fallada’s novel paints a haunting picture of the atmosphere of fear, suspicion and intimidation in 1940 Berlin and Fallada leaves no doubt what his view of the Nazi regime is. An unforgettable book.In contrast to Fallada’s book, Robert Seethaler’s novel A Whole Life is the work of a contemporary artist. Robert Seethaler is an Austrian writer and well-known actor who has published several books, ‘A Whole Life’ being his best-known work outside of German-speaking countries. It was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and The International Dublin Literary Award 2017. Like Fallada, Seethaler writes about the life of an ordinary person, Andreas Egger. Egger lives most of his life in a remote valley in the Austrian Alps. He is an outsider, barely tolerated by the farming family who take him in as an orphan and make him work for his keep. His life is hard and without comforts. Events outside the valley (the book spans the time from 1902 until 1977) are barely mentioned. Egger only ever leaves his valley as a soldier during World War II and on short working trips. Egger’s happiest time is his short, ill-fated marriage to Marie and yet, this is not a sad book. It is a gentle, wistful reflection on life in its simplest form and on the happiness that can be found in acceptance and solitude. A wonderful, tender novel.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN.Members of other library authorities will need to access BorrowBox using a different link.