Irish Women are ….

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling Book Cover Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling
Emer McLysaght; Sarah Bree
General Fiction (Adult) , Women's Fiction
Penguin UK - Michael Joseph
03 May 2018

Twenty-something Aisling - that's pronounced Ashling - is the sensible sort.

She wears kitten heels for the sake of her arches.

And a great night out is knowing the immersion heater at home is securely switched off.

In other words, country girl Aisling likes to play it safe in the big city.

But that hasn't helped get her man John to hurry up and pop the question.

Throwing caution to the wind an impatient Aisling tries to encourage him, only for her whole life to come crashing down.

Now no umbrella, electric blanket, nor sensibly sized heel can save her.

What's a complete Aisling to do?

I actually liked this book, even though I am not in general a fan of Irish fiction that is full of a. words that mean nothing to me; and b: humour that is not quite as I understand it.

But I managed to understand, after a few chapters, what an ‘Aisling’ was. No, not just an Irish name – which is very popular, but an Irish girl’s name for a girl from the hicks – the backwoods – who doesn’t understand city ways and doesn’t dress in a smart city manner and generally is a country hick.

But if you like your female characters to be funny and strong and full of life then this is the book for you. If you are not Irish you might struggle over some of the phrases and behaviours and references, but don’t let that put you off. There is a lot here to entertain and learn from.

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More about Crows

Crows of Beara
Julie Christine Johnson
Ashland Creek Press
(1 Sept. 2017)

Nature as Cultural Artifact

A guest post by:

 Julie Christine Johnson 

I didn’t set out to write an eco-lit novel, to make a political statement with my story. I am a writer of landscapes that transport readers from their worlds into those of my imagination and of characters whose conflicts and choices are urgent and relevant to my readers’ souls. I don’t write with a genre in mind; I’m a storyteller who often discovers her themes many drafts later, when the bones of a story have been fleshed out and its heart is beating strongly.

THE CROWS OF BEARA was meant to be my love song to Ireland. A place was all I had in my pocket when I sat down with my notebook to begin sketching characters. I set the place aside and focused on the who, for it is from the characters that my stories are built. WHERE gives me a foundation; WHO is the framework. I discovered a protagonist and a main character linked by the same weakness and the same strength: addiction and art. Bringing them to stand before each other on a dividing line was a third “character” which I met by chance in my research: the Red-billed chough, a species of crow which cycles on and off the endangered list as one nesting ground thrives and another is threatened. It is found along the southwest coast of Ireland, where cliff meets pasture on one end and ocean on the other. In CROWS, a copper mine would bring needed jobs to a struggling community; it would also destroy the habitat of this beloved small black bird with a crimson beak and feet. The chough became the book’s touchstone.

Deep into revisions, months after CROWS had been accepted for publication by Ashland Creek Press, I met an artist-anthropologist using 3-D photography in a breathtaking marriage of art and science to preserve natural artifacts gathered from manned and unmanned space missions. Through her art, she shows that our cultural heritage is alive in these rocks gathered from places so distant, the mind bends in trying to comprehend. In talking with her, I realized I had been dancing around but unable to name the central core of my characters’ artistic drive. Nature is a cultural artifact that we have the power to preserve, and art can be a unifying force when politics threaten to tear us apart.

There’s a scene midway through THE CROWS OF BEARA where Annie sees Daniel’s art for the first time. And in observing his own work through her eyes, he realizes the power of what he does, how his art can change minds, perspectives, lives. Art as an act of resistance and healing is one of the major themes of the book and it’s very much how I feel about what I do as an artist. Words are my voice, my sword, my hand out to the universe. Art, whether it’s visual, literary, musical, or of the body, connects us to ourselves, to each other, to the greater world. It’s what keeps us moving forward toward light in times of greatest darkness.

 

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The Irish Village

Love and Shenanigans Book Cover Love and Shenanigans
Ballybeg
Zara Keane
romance, humour, saga
Beaverstone Press LLC
(16 May 2014)

A romantic comedy featuring a crashed wedding, a puppy with attitude, and a second chance romance. Falling for the groom… Three days before leaving Ireland on the adventure of a lifetime, Fiona Byrne returns to her hometown to attend the family wedding from hell. When she discovers the drunken vows she exchanged with the groom during a wild Las Vegas trip eight years previously mean they're legally married, her future plans ricochet out of control. Gavin Maguire's life is low on drama, high on stability, and free of pets. But Gavin hadn't reckoned on Fiona blasting back into his life and crashing his wedding. In the space of twenty-four hours, he loses a fiancée and a job, and gains a wife and a puppy. Can he salvage his bland-but-stable life? More importantly, can he resist losing his heart to Fiona all over again?

A fun light romance feel good story with a bookstore and a cafe in a small town. – what more can you ask? Drink your coffee and read a book?

There was a nice flowing style and just for a change, a Goth heroine with various piercings and tattoos.

She is tall and curvy curly with dark  hair versus straight  fair hair which trumps small and petite, in the story.

This is the first in a series of 5 books about the characters in the town.

There is one small wrinkle that – although it set the story line – I found unrealistic. The hip replacement element.

Hip replacements are not considered serious surgery. There are no such things as Nursing/Convalescent  Homes these days after hospital – it is considered much better to go home(after around 4 days)  as you recover better in familiar surroundings – with familiar germs! And a hip replacement is easy to recover from in that the physio is sit down and get up and walk. Repeat. Various leg lifting exercises of course.  I speak as someone who has had 3.5 (and counting) knee replacements and am reliably told they are more difficult to recover from. Yet within 3 months I was walking well – and 64 is young for a hip replacement.

 

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The Irish Experience: Cork and Blarney

Well I guess Ireland lived up to expectations in that it was largely wet. And green.

We visited three towns whilst we were there: Cork; Limerick; and Dublin. Each town being very different in its culture and thus experience.

We actually stayed just outside Cork in a country hotel  set in a golf course with weddings every day – it was certainly wedding season! This meant that we had to drive to get to our experiences which included a wonderful wild-life park: Fota Wildlife Park. http://www.fotawildlife.ie/.  As you can see from the webpage they were great fun to visit. We saw herds of giraffes, flamingos, orang utans, tigers and other large beasties. and generally had great fun.

There was even a wallaby mum who brought her baby onto the general path and just lay there and sun-bathed.20150814_121632-1-1 20150814_120951 20150814_120958 P1030982 P1030949 P1030950

One of the more interesting areas was their newly laid out seal enclosure, where you could go downstairs to an area which was at water level to see the seals and penguins. it looked very weird from the path of course as they appeared to be in the water…

This wildlife park is only about rare and endangered species and breeding. Some animals have become incredibly rare in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching etc.

We also went to Limerick whilst in Ireland as well as Blarney and Dublin.

Blarney Castle is great. They have made a wonderful garden and generally a good experience for all the family especially those people who knit! Now why would that be you wonder?

And to explain you would need to see what the knitters have done – a group of ladies have wrapped the tree trunks in fancy knitted cosies, some embroidered, some crocheted and others just multi-coloured.

And then the kicker – they went into the garden and adorned an arbour with pom poms!

Apart from the pom poms the garden is really nice with a wetland area and other good features including a witch’s cavern and children’s activities and nice planting.

There is even a poison garden which sends you aware paranoid about what you are growing!

And no, none of us kissed the Blarney Stone!

 

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