What better way to celebrate Irish culture than diving into some compelling stories written by Irish authors? From modern classics to thrillers and experimental fiction, here are 10 brilliant books by Irish female writers to read this St. Patrick’s Day.
Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden
Molly Fox is an actor who is currently performing in New York and during her absence, she decides to rent her Dublin apartment to a college friend she’s known for 20 years. Alone in her apartment, and struggling with writer’s block, Molly’s playwright friend reminisces about their friendship, wondering if, after all this time, they really know each other. Captivating and insightful, this book is perfect for anyone questioning their place in life and whether they’ve made the right decisions.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This New York Times bestseller has made it into every ‘Best Books of 2018’ list for a reason. Introspective, tender and frustrating at times, this story explores an intense teenage relationship maturing into adulthood and the challenges that come with it. If you don’t mind reading about two people miscommunicating their feelings over the years, pick this one up and prepare to be amazed.
In this YA novel, we follow the story of Emma O’Donovan, an 18-year-old girl who sees her life changing before her eyes when, after a party, she discovers she was raped. Haunting and devastating, Asking For It explores the trauma and shame that comes with being a victim of sexual abuse, reminding us all of how hurtful it is to live in a society that condones predators.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Set in mid-19th century rural Ireland, this dark historical fiction novel is the tale of Anna O’Donnell, an 11-year-old child who people claim to be a wonder as she has apparently managed to survive four months without eating any food. Lib Wright is the nurse who will try to solve this mystery, unaware of how meeting Anna will change her life forever. Disturbing and compulsively readable, The Wonder is a fascinating novel that’ll stay with you long after you finish it.
The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien
Banned after its first publication in 1960, The Country Girls is O’Brien’s beautiful debut novel about Kate and Baba, two Irish country girls who leave their convent school life, to find love and adventure in London. This lovely coming-of-age story is sure to make you look back on your teenage years and reflect on the importance some friendships had in your life.
In the Woods by Tana French
This bestselling debut is the disquieting story of Rob, a child that disappears in the woods of a Dublin suburb. Twenty years after being found and with no memories of what happened to him, Rob is forced to face his past, as another child is found murdered in the same forest. Dark, complex and enthralling, French’s twisted thriller will leave you awake all night trying to solve the mystery of this troubled protagonist.
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
In an original narrative style, McBride creates an experimental fiction novel about a young girl and her disabled brother. As the story unfolds, we learn about the tragedy they have both faced and the sexual abuse that takes place in their home. At times devastating to read, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is an unflinching account of trauma and its consequences on a teenage girl’s life.
A River in the Trees by Jacqueline O’Mahony
In this historical fiction novel, O’Mahony writes about Ellen and Hannah: two women from the same family set 100 years apart from each other. When Ellen’s facing major challenges in her career and marriage, she decides to leave London and go back to the old Irish house that once belonged to her family. Here she will discover secrets about her aunt Hannah that will change her life forever.
M for Mammy by Eleanor O’Reilly
In this heartwarming book, O’Reilly tells the story of the Augustts, a family bound together by love and the unique language they created for each other. Told from the point of view of both mother and children, M for Mammy explores the obstacles families can face and the unique solutions used to overcome them.
When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
In this international bestseller, our protagonist Maurice Hannigan, an 84-year old Irishman who finds himself looking back at his past and raising five toasts to the most meaningful people in his life one night at a pub. Intimate and heartbreaking, Hannigan’s story is sure to leave no one indifferent.
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