Brought to you by Dublin City Libraries and axis Ballymun, this multi-platform project is a celebration and a recognition of the city libraries and throughout the pandemic, we re-discovered the power of literature, music, art and culture as sources of entertainment and wellbeing.
“ Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me”
So begins this dark, suspenseful novel. From the beginning we are drawn through the iron gates of Manderley and down the drive towards this great house. We accompany the young heroine who is never given a name other than the second Mrs De Winter. Through her eyes we see the world of the first Mrs De Winter, the beautiful and accomplished Rebecca.
In the strictest academic terms, a romance is a narrative genre in literature that involves a mysterious, adventurous, or spiritual story line where the focus is on a quest that involves bravery and strong values, not always a love interest. Here’s the thing: sometimes, you just want to read a good love story. Or at least, something with a few dramatic swoons. But a romance novel, per se? Nothing so gaudy or slapdash for you! You need real literature. Well, here’s the answer: a selection of romantic books that will rev your motor (emotional or otherwise) but don’t fall into that taboo category of cheap paper and cheaper storylines.An Unsuitable MatchWhy on earth, after all you’ve been through, all you’ve survived, all you’ve achieved, why do you want to get married?’ Rose Woodrowe has just got engaged to Tyler Masson – a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her. The only problem? This isn’t the first time for either of them, and their five grown-up children have strong opinions on the matter. Like Rose’s daughter, Laura, who remembers her parents’ painful divorce and doesn’t want to see her mother hurt again. Or the twins, Emmy and Nat, who simply don’t trust the man their mother has fallen for. Then there’s Tyler’s children: Seth, too busy with his San Francisco sourdough bakery to get to know his father’s new partner; and Mallory, the aspiring actress, who is still wrestling with the issues of her own childhood. Who to listen to? Who to please? Rose and Tyler are determined to get it right this time, but in trying to make everyone happy, can they ever be happy themselves?Heartbreak HotelWhen retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds – and fast. Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who’s been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle. But under Buffy’s watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought.The Beekeeper of AleppoNarrated by Art Malik, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.In the midst of war, he found loveIn the midst of darkness, he found courageIn the midst of tragedy, he found hopeNuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo - until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. Afra has lost her sight, and so they embark on a periluos journey towards an uncertain future in Britain. As they travel, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is his beekeeper cousin Mustafa, who is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. Nuri and Afra set off through a broken world, on a dangerous journey in which they will confront the pain of their unfathomable loss, and in doing so find a way back to each other again.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.
Book recommendations from Eimear from the relief staff panel, one historical true crime and a mix of fiction genres. With the brighter days and good weather making an appearance these book ideas might take your mind off things for a short time and give you a much needed break. Fiction writing can teach us a lot about society and humanity. Reading fiction contributes to a person's moral psychological development and their ability to have empathy or understanding. It enhances out ability to connect with each other. It makes us a little bit more aware and informed.Tell Me Everything If you ‘re looking for a compulsive page-turner full of psychological suspense, why not check out this impressive debut by Cambria Brockman? New to Hawthorne College, Malin quickly finds her feet amongst a tight-knit circle of friends. There is Gemma, the artsy but insecure theatre major; John, the handsome and wealthy New Englander; John’s cousin Max, the shy, quiet pre-med student; Khaled, the group jester and prince from Abu Dhabi; and of course Ruby, a beautiful art history student. However, Malin has a troubled past, one that she’s good at hiding. She has developed a knack for projecting a carefree appearance, but behind the scenes she’s calculating, cunning and has mastered the art of detecting the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of others. Fast-forward to Senior Day, just before graduation, Malin’s secrets and those of her friends are revealed. As Malin races to preserve her perfectly cultivated image, her missteps set in motion a chain of events that end in a murder. Whilst fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances shift, Malin tests the limits of what she is capable and how far she will go, to stop the truth from coming out. Tell Me Everything is a dark and twisty tale, the perfect thriller for summer!The Doctor’s Wife is Dead. Nenagh, Co.Tipperary. 1849. Ellen Langley, the wife of prosperous local doctor and surgeon Charles Langley, has just died after a short illness. Ellen had been sick for a number of years with consumption, but in the days before her death, her physical condition deteriorated rapidly. Several doctors attended Ellen in her final days and noted her symptoms. It appeared as though Ellen had died of English Cholera. At least, this was the conclusion of the five doctors who carried out the post-mortem. But in a remarkable turn of events, the coroner’s jury refused to accept the verdict. The circumstances surrounding Ellen’s death raised questions. Why had Charles Langley written a letter requesting an inquest into his wife’s death whilst she was still alive? Why was she buried in a pauper’s coffin? Why wasn’t the jury allowed to interview Mrs. Langley’s servants? Why was Charles Langley adamant that one witness in particular,shouldn’t be called to give evidence? Dr. Langley’s contempt for his wife was widely known and it isn’t long before new evidence surfaces and Charles Langley finds himself on trial for his wife’s murder. Following every twist and turn in the case, The Doctor’s Wife Is Dead tells the story of an abusive marriage, the double standards in Victorian Law, and the brave efforts of ordinary people to hold the person responsible to account. I really enjoyed this account of a nineteenth century true crime. It was very well researched and it gives the reader an honest account of Victorian life in Ireland. I couldn’t put it down!The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh.When Sarah and Eddie meet, sparks fly. It seems that Sarah has finally met Mr. Right. After spending seven blissful days together, Eddie departs for a pre-booked holiday to sunny Spain. Sarah has no doubt in her mind that Eddie will call, but he doesn’t. Sarah’s friends try to persuade her to forget him, but Sarah is certain that something has happened and that there has to be reason for his silence. There has to be! What if the reason for Eddie’s silence is a secret, the one thing you two didn’t share with each other?The Women of Primrose Square.This is another great read from popular Irish writer Claudia Carroll. Frank Woods at number 79 Primrose Square is about to turn fifty. Naturally, he wants to celebrate and so he tries to organise a party to mark the occasion. The problem is no one wants to go. Not even his wife and children, who all have other plans! Frank arrives home on his birthday, to find that his family have thrown him a surprise party. Standing in the doorway is Francesca, not Frank. As Francesca transitions, her relationship with her family becomes difficult and she decides to rent a room from her cantankerous neighbor, Violet Hardcastle. There, she makes friends with Emily Dunne, who has just gotten out of rehab and is desperate to make amends. Gossip quickly spreads through Primrose Square and it’s not long before relationships are tested. One thing is for sure, nothing in Primrose Square will ever be the same again.Leaving Time.Jodi Picoult is a prolific and popular writer, and this title is one of my favourites. Jenna Metcalf’s mother Alice went missing in the wake of an accident when Jenna was just three years old. It’s been more than a decade since her disappearance and Jenna refuses to believe that her mother would have abandoned her. Undeterred, Jenna frequently searches the Internet for clues into her mother’s whereabouts. Determined to find her mother, Jenna enlists the help of discredited psychic Serenity Jones and Virgil Stanhope, the detective who originally investigated Alice’s case. As the truth unfolds, Jenna’s memories start to fit with the events described in her mother’s journal, and the trio realise that when you ask difficult questions, you often get difficult answers. Leaving Time is a bittersweet tale of love, loss and the refusal to give up.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.
Thirteen may be considered unlucky for some, but not to the thirteen on the Man Booker Prize longlist which includes three Irish authors this year. Donal Ryan’s "From a Low and Quiet Sea" is his second nomination for the prize after "Spinning Heart" in 2013. Anna Burns and Sally Rooney both receive their first nominations for "Milkman" and "Normal People" respectively. Belfast born Anna Burns was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, now the Women's Prize for Fiction, in 2001 for her debut; "No Bones". Sally Rooney, at 27, is the joint youngest author to be nominated this year. She can add that to an already impressive resume that includes being the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. Upon ditching the requirement of the author to be either from the U.K. or the Commonwealth two years ago, the two most recent winners of the prestigious accolade have both been from the U.S. Ireland can hold its head high to have the same number of nominations as the U.S. this year. There is only one previous winner nominated this year, Michael Ondaatje, whose book "The English Patient" was crowned the best Man Booker Prize winner of the last 50 years. This year he is nominated for his captivating novel "Warlight", set in post Blitz London in 1945. In a departure for the prize, this year sees a graphic novel, "Sabrina" by Nick Drnaso, nominated for the first time. Judges are quoted as being blown away by Drnaso's "oblique, subtle and minimal" style in a work that explores the chilling effect of 24-hour news after a girl has disappeared.Farouk's country has been torn apart by war. Lampy's heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John's past torments him as he nears his end. From a Low and Quiet Sea centres around the refugee, the dreamer and the penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with the Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. "Milkman" is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years. Sally Rooney's second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it's also a novel about love. It's about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It's wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. Normal People will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.As a nation that has the most Nobel Laureates per capita in the world, Ireland has always punched far above her weight in the literary world. Donal Ryan, Anna Burns and Sally Rooney continue the hallowed Irish tradition of captivating their readers with their touching and unflinchingly human stories. We wish them the very best of luck and hopefully one of them will be the fifth Irish Man Booker Prize winner.The Man Booker Prize Longlist:Snap, Belinda BauerMilkman, Anna BurnsSabrina, Nick DrnasoWashington Black, Esi EdugyanIn Our Mad and Furious City, Guy GunaratneEverything Under, Daisy JohnsonThe Mars Room, Rachel KushnerThe Water Cure, Sophie MackintoshWarlight, Michael OndaatjeThe Overstory, Richard PowersThe Long Take, Robin RobertsonNormal People, Sally RooneyFrom a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal RyanPress on the Man Booker:Three Irish Authors nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (Irish Times)First Graphic Novel nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (The Guardian)About the Man Booker:The Man Booker Prize is one of the world's most famous literary prizes for contemporary fiction. From 2014 eligibility for The Man Booker Prize was extended to include novels originally written in English and published in the UK, regardless of the nationality of their author. Previously it was only awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
We are delighted to announce that Lia Mills’ novel Fallen, published by Penguin Ireland, is the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2016.We are also delighted to announce that, for the first time, Dublin will team up with Belfast for a 'Two Cities One Book' Festival. 2016 will see a partnership with Libraries NI (the library authority for Northern Ireland) so that next April readers in Dublin and Belfast will engage with the same book at the same time. The initiative was launched at noon today (14th) by an tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD.Fallen, which tells the story of Dubliners against the backdrop of the dramatic events of Easter Week 1916, is a literary contribution to Dublin City Council's 1916 centenary programme.An tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh said "I am delighted that as part of Dublin City Council’s 1916 commemorations, the Dublin: One City One Book Festival is joining with Belfast city through Libraries NI to celebrate the wonderful novel Fallen by Lia Mills. As a fellow Dubliner, I want to congratulate Lia on this, her third novel, and wish her every success with it. Tá mé cinnte go mbeidh an-éileamh ar an leabhar agus go mbainfidh léitheoirí Bhéal Feirste agus Bhaile Átha Cliath taitneamh as an úrscéal staire fíorthráthúil seo. I congratulate Dublin City Libraries for this first time collaboration with Libraries NI."Above: View photo slideshow above of the launch. (Some photos, credit: Jason Clarke Photography (see flickr photos))The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys said "There are many ways to tell the stories of 1916. Historians will provide us with the factual accounts of the events of the Rising, but novelists like Lia Mills can add layers to that narrative. By focusing on personal stories, with which we can all identify, we can discover what daily life was like for the citizens who were caught up in a series of tumultuous events which changed this country forever. I am delighted that this book has been chosen for next year as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, the moment when we as a nation will commemorate the events of 1916."Commenting on the project, Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said:"This is a great opportunity to encourage people in both cities to read and discuss the same book and the project supports one of Libraries NI's core aims of promoting reading and literature. The timeframe and the chosen book is particularly relevant considering next year's planned commemorative events for the Decade of Commemorations for World War One and for the Easter Rising, both significant historical events which form the backdrop of the novel."Dublin City Librarian Margaret Hayes says "Dublin: One City One Book 2016 will be the eleventh year of this annual programme . Fallen is a novel which through its characters, plot and narrative tells the story of ordinary Dubliners caught up in the historic events of Easter 1916 and is a perfect choice for Dublin: One City One Book 2016. I am especially pleased that readers in Dublin and Belfast will jointly explore this book and share their reading experiences in a first time collaboration of 'Two Cities, One Book'."Lia Mills said, "I’m delighted that Fallen has been chosen for the Dublin: One City One Book festival in 2016. The festival is such a positive boost – for books and for readers. I wanted this novel to explore a fresh perspective, starting with the question: what would it be like to find your city taken over by forces you don’t recognise? The participation of Libraries NI adds a new and exciting dimension to the festival. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do."Fallen, published by Penguin Ireland, is the third novel from Dublin author Lia Mills. Through the experiences of its central character Katie Crilly, the novel explores the challenges of day to day living in a conflict situation alongside contextual subjects such as education and votes for women. It vividly depicts the various and conflicting allegiances faced by Irish soldiers in the First World War and those supporting the cause of the rebellion.A full programme of events in both cities, offering opportunities to engage with Fallen in a range of contexts, will be announced in March 2016.Since its inception in 2006, the Dublin: One City One Book Festival has encouraged everyone to read a book connected with Dublin during the month of April. The initiative is led by Dublin City Council's Public Library Service as part of Dublin's UNESCO City of Literature designation and is supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.Today's announcement follows a highly successful Dublin: One City One Book Festival in 2015. The book choice was 'The Barrytown Trilogy' by Roddy Doyle. Events booked out quickly and the books in the trilogy were among the most borrowed books from Dublin's public libraries this year.Previous books featured in are 'At Swim Two Birds' by Flann O’ Brien (2006), 'A Long Long Way' by Sebastian Barry (2007), 'Gulliver's Travels' by Jonathan Swift (2008), 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker (2009), 'A Picture of Dorian Grey' by Oscar Wilde (2010), 'Ghost Light' by Joseph O’Connor (2011),' Dubliners' by James Joyce (2012), 'Strumpet City' by James Plunkett (2013) and 'If Ever You Go: a map of Dublin in poetry and song', edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth (2014).Visit the Dublin: One City One Book website, and on Twitter; hashtag #fallen2016.
The series of interviews I have been doing with authors was actually inspired by a conversation between Ruth and I about a year ago. Unfortunately her previous books proved impossible to source with our suppliers, and Treachery of Beautiful Things was difficult, but we persevered and it is in stock.Ruth and I know each other online and through several conventions, we're both librarians, fantasy lovers and lovers of old books, only she gets to work with them in her job.1. So what kind of fiction do you write?All kinds of fantasy, for people of all ages. 2. Why?I love magic in my stories. I love a sense of the fantastic, the numinous, the wonder whether it’s in a new world or something to be found in everyday life. 3. How long have you been writing for?As long as I can remember. 4. What is your library history like?I'm from a family of readers, and we always belonged to our local library. I still do and now have the great pleasure of letting the library keep my children in reading materials because trying to do so myself would bankrupt me! Working in libraries, and having worked in public libraries in the past, gives a very real sense of how important a place a library is. 5. Does it give you a special thrill to see your books in your local library?Definitely. 6. Do you visit your local library often?Every week, more or less. I may have mentioned my kids are voracious readers. They’d go every day if they could. 7. Do you use the interlibrary loan system in your library service (well I might as well get a minor plug in!)Yes. I have books on reserve right now! ;) It’s a fantastic facility, especially when it comes to some of the more tricky to get research books. 8. Have you ever reserved your own book just to prove it's in stock?No, but you're giving me ideas now... ;) 9. Did you have a favourite author as a kid?Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Enid Blyton, J. R. R. Tolkien (well I started reading him as a kid) 10. Have you read those books again as an adult?Yes. 11. What was it like? Did it stand up to adult reading?The Dark is Rising sequence was as brilliant as I remember. I still don't understand Red Shift but love Garner's language. I recently read his adult sequel to the Alderley Edge trilogy, Boneland, which was phenomenal and I will have to reread several times. Such an incredible book. Tolkien is a lifelong read, and I read Blyton with my kids. 12. List five favourite authors (who aren't you!)Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Rees Brennan, Susan Cooper, Stephen King 13. Have you read any books about Ireland that made you laugh/cry/breathe smoke?Many. It's one of the reasons I'm quite nervous about writing stories based in other cultures. I've seen how wrong it can go. Quite often it’s something as little as the way a character speaks. I have a horror of that “Oirish” accent. Hopefully as I am now writing about Ireland I’m getting it right. A Crack in Everything is a YA urban fantasy set in Dublin, which will be released next year from O’Brien Press. I drew in a lot of my own local knowledge writing it but then discovered there were many things I needed to follow up on and double check. I’m writing book 2 at the moment and rooting out more Dublin folklore, settings and stories to use. 14. Do you read any genres outside what you write? Deliberately?The story is the most important thing to me so yes. I'm a big fan of thrillers and historicals. It's not so much deliberate as that I read what I enjoy so that doesn't have to limit me to one genre. It's refreshing and often gives me ideas. One story I'm working on at the moment was inspired by a book on England's medieval queens. 15. Do you go to any Irish Conventions?Yes, Octocon and Pcon annually. I've also been to Wexworlds and TitanCon. I'll go wherever I'm invited basically! 16. Do you go to any non-Irish Conventions? Any favourites or recommendations?I go to the Romantic Novelists Association annual conference. Not a convention as such but one of the most valuable weekends away for me as a writer. I’m heading off to London for Worldcon next year, with a quick turnaround to be back here for Eurocon in Dublin (called Shamrockon) the following weekend. Very excited about that, and the possibility of a Worldcon in Dublin in 2019. But basically the same thing goes - if someone invites me I'll go. 17. Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?I knit a little (badly), make jewellery occasionally, draw (not in a while). It's all quite intermittent. I love to cook, which I have to do on a daily basis. The problem is I never know when a story is going to hook me and pull me away from a hobby. And there have been a few charred dinners in our house. I also like walking and exploring forests and hills. I’m a member of the Native Woodland Trust but never seem to make the gatherings. I’m wonderful at planning research trips which drag my family up hills, into forests and in search of prehistoric tombs and the like. We took a trip to England while I was editing The Treachery of Beautiful Things so I could trace the path of one character from Dragon Hill to the Uffington White Horse and on to Wayland’s Smithy along the Ridgeway, mainly so I could find out if there was a gate across the path to Wayland’s Smithy. (There was!) 18. Have you visited Libraries in any other country?Oh yes, I've been very lucky with my current job in that there is an international association and we meet every 18 months. There is usually a visit to a few libraries involved. So far I've been lucky enough to see the Carmelite library at Krakow, the National Libraries in Malta and Madrid, El Escorial, the Vatican library and most recently the Theological and Philosophical Halls at the library in Strahov Monastery in Prague. Beautiful places. 19. Which one impressed you the most?Probably the Theological hall in Strahov for looks alone. Malta and El Escorial were wonderful too.
Vampires - From Dracula to Twilight and everything in between
Post by Fabienne Sauberlich.Are the Acheronian Dracula and the sparkling chick magnet Edward Cullen one and the same? Definitely not. But they are both vampires. Maybe there is not "That Vampire" anymore but a few very different types of vampires? And that is exactly how it is; they kind of spread over the whole media market placing themselves in different genres with different attributes. So if you think you know vampires, vampires fiction and vampires movies you might have missed some. What vampires do you like? The creature of human nightmares, the pitiless hunter of the night longing for your blood? You can find them with famous horror authors like Stephen King in Salem’s Lot, hunted by brave people like Van Helsing, Buffy and so on, or in classics like Dracula and Nosferatu.Or is it the more complex vampire you are looking for? The one struggling with his conflict between the need for blood and his reluctance to kill or hurt others. Fighting his own demons while losing everyone he loves, to be damned to an eternal life of loneliness while trying to find his way, like Louis in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, or like Darran Shan, and other characters of fantasy authors.If a vampire has human-like feelings as Louis and most modern vampires have, he is also able to love. But how can you be with the one you love when losing control might result in killing him/her? And if you did fall in love with a stranger, could you still love him if you knew his secret? Would you follow him into his world? Love, danger, secrets and dark passion. That is what you find in the stories of Lynsay Sands, Kerrelyn Sparks and many more.So that is what they are. Vampires. Murderers and gentleman. Passionate and cool as ice. And everything in between.------------------------About our Guest BloggerFabienne Sauberlich is a student of Library and Information Science in Germany with special interests in Psychology, Horror, Fantasy and Mystery Media.
Yesterday saw the shortlist announcement for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction, the UK's annual book award for fiction written by a woman. In its 17th year, the Prize 'celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing throughout the world' (quote).Included on the shortlist is 'The Forgotten Waltz', the story of an adulterous affair and the fifth novel by Irish writer Anne Enright. Enright, who has been nominated three times for the Orange award, won the Man Booker Prize in 2007 for her novel 'The Gathering'.Other books on the shortlist include 'Half Blood Blues' by Canadian writer Esi Edugyan, 'Painter of Silence' by Britain's Georgina Harding, and three works by American authors - 'The Song of Achilles' by Madeline Miller, 'Foreign Bodies' by Cynthia Ozick and 'State of Wonder' by Ann Patchett.The award ceremony takes place in London on the 30th May.You can read the full shortlist announcement on the award website.Reviews of The Forgotten Waltz"The Forgotten Waltz, teeming with credible characters that are difficult to empathise with, forces us to look in the mirror. It reveals human beings as capable of empathy, but not empathetic; capable of self-awareness, but constantly fleeing from it. It is a discomfiting public examination of conscience, an exposé of our national shortcomings so recently in the limelight." Irish Independent, April 2012."Cloaked in a novel about a love affair is a ferocious indictment of the self-involved material girls our era has produced." New York Times, Sept 2011."Less important than the momentum of the affair is Enright's playful and beautifully expressed examination of how it feels to cross the line." The Independent, March 2012."Enright has established herself as one of the most grown-up of contemporary novelists, one of the few to pay attention to the messiness of ordinary lives... Anne Enright has taken a great risk in writing this book, but she has brought it off superbly." The Telegraph, April 2011.
It's Valentines Day and I'm reading Everything I know about Love I learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books (an actual excellent blog I'd recommend to anyone interested in the genre, the D and F reviews are howlingly funny). Her other book Beyond Heaving Bosoms is also in the libraries. They don't take themselves seriously, but they do take the topic of romance seriously, particularly when it comes to Genre Snobbery.Romance is often the bottom of the pile when it comes to respect, dismissed as women's and often trivialised I sometimes almost feel like apologising when I admit to reading Mills & Boons and people sometimes ask me if I read "real" books. For me Mills and Boons are often great fun, good reads and often a palette refresher. Yes the outcome is known, but that could be argued of a lot of genre books, at the end of a murder mystery you expect to resolve the murder, spy novels expect to save the world, it's the journey that matters, the way in which the characters resolve their relationship that matters with a romance. Most fiction involve a romance of some sort in the story, it's the believability that counts. How does James Bond manage to have so many women fall into his arms?Some relationships and the speed that people fall in love is frankly unbelievable but the romance novels that stand out in my mind are the ones that leave me hoping that the characters continue to have a good life afterwards. It must be said that there are many books that others have loved that I have hated and vice versa, in this as in all fiction, each to their own.Some of my favourites (that we have in stock) include, in no particular order:Georgette Heyer's Infamous Army no list really couldn't include Georgette Heyer, this one has a much-lauded and apparently quite accurate account of the Battle of Waterloo!Kay Hooper's Sleeping with Fear an amnesia plot with occult and paranormal thriller elements.Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice I've read this one a few times and it never fails to warm me.Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance with the Devil - the writing isn't stellar but the stories pull me in and keep me readingNora Roberts - Blood Brothers - somewhat paranormal, I found it entertaining.Jennifer Crusie - Faking it - probably the most romance of the list, I loved it.Any romantic fiction suggestions?
Being the day that's in it, I thought I might throw a glance as to what titles classified as 'romantic fiction' featured amongst the most borrowed fiction titles (from our branch libraries, that is) during the month of January. And in doing so I was somewhat amazed that so few romance titles seemed to feature amongst the most borrowed, crime novels appearing to dominate the list in fact. But maybe that is not such a surprise, crime novels have always been hugely popular, while romance novels might be said to have a niche audience. And why so, or am I wrong?? Are we all not romantics at heart?!Anyways, while I wondered whether or not we might have seen the demise of romantic fiction to some degree, I came across this article in the Telegraph newspaper, 'Romance is a closed book: now we’re all losers in love', whose author also seems to think that crime has very much knocked romantic fiction down the pecking order. But as the author states, "feasting on felony and felony alone is not the healthiest diet", so with those words of wisdom, let me champion some romantic fiction titles that might rekindle your interest (and mine!) in the world of romance! The highest ranking romantic novel in January, in terms of times borrowed, was The Next Always by Nora Roberts, which happens to be volume one of the Inn at Boonsboro Trilogy. Volumes two and three yet to appear I believe. As the book description states, "the historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumoured hauntings. Now it's getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother".Other titles that caught the eye include: Hotel Vendome by Danielle Steel, which I understand delivers all that the Steel reader has come to expect, and which has "all the ingredients... for a fantastic escapist read" (Express); Rural Affair by Catherine Alliott, the story of Poppy who discovers something about her husband after he is killed, resolves not to make the same mistake again, and who then becomes the object of the local menfolk's affections as she determines to live her village life to the full. If you like black humour I believe you might like this; Time and Tide by Mary O'Sullivan, the story of Robyn, a journalist married to the village vet and very pregnant. Robyn is confused to find she is still attracted to her ex-lover, then throw in a virus, a hurricane and what the book describes as a "night of fear, violence, heartache, bravery, good and evil", and you end up with a romance and plenty of drama!And finally from the January list (though I have to say my few mentions here are selective rather than exhaustive) is If Only You Knew by Claire Allan, which is the story of two cousins who must sort through the letters of a dead aunt in her house in the south of France, letters that reveal their Aunt's life and the heartbreak that led her to move to France and the peace she found there with her beloved Claude. The book description states this to be a "story of secrets, love, loss, longing and purple shoes". Before I close, let me add that my exploration of the world of romantic fiction led me also to the list of contenders for the most romantic novel of the year as listed in the Guardian newspaper, dated 13 February. It lists various categories, including Contemporary Romantic Novel, Epic Romantic Novel and Romantic Comedy Novel, to list but three. Having checked a number of the titles I note that we do have a good number of the shortlisted titles in our catalogue and therefore awaiting your reading, so with no further ado, check out the titles in our online catalogue now and get on down to your nearest branch library as soon as you can.And Happy Valentine's and Romantic Reading!