7 Irish Novels You Need to Read ASAP
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Whether your plans for the day include joining in parades, downing pint after pint of Guinness, or simply wearing a green T-shirt, we know you'll make Ireland proud. If you find yourself with a bit more free time than you anticipated, we recommend checking out these must-read Irish novels.
A Star Called Henry - Roddy Doyle
Born at the beginning of the twentieth century, Henry Smart lives through the evolution of modern Ireland, and in this extraordinary novel he brilliantly tells his story. From his own birth and childhood on the streets of Dublin to his role as soldier (and lover) in the Irish Rebellion, Henry recounts his early years of reckless heroism and adventure.
A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry
In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family, and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there, he encounters a horror of violence and gore he could not have imagined and sustains his spirit with only the words on the pages from home and the camaraderie of the mud-covered Irish boys who fight and die by his side. Dimly aware of the political tensions that have grown in Ireland in his absence, Willie returns on leave to find a world split and ravaged by forces closer to home. Despite the comfort he finds with his family, he knows he must rejoin his regiment and fight until the end.
The Last September - Nina de Gramont
Brett has been in love with Charlie ever since he took her skiing on a lovely Colorado night fourteen years ago. And now, living in a seaside cottage on Cape Cod with their young daughter, it looks as if they have settled into the life they desired. However, Brett and Charlie’s marriage has been tenuous for quite some time. When Charlie’s unstable younger brother plans to move in with them, the tension simmering under the surface of their marriage boils over.
The Country Girls - Edna O'Brien
Kate and Baba are two ambitious Irish country girls in search of life: romantic Kate seeks love, while pragmatic Baba will take whatever she can get. Together they set out to conquer Dublin and the world. Under the big city’s bright lights, they spin their lives into a whirl of comic and touching misadventures, wild flirtations, and reckless passions. But love changes everything. And as their lives take unexpected and separate turns, Baba and Kate must ultimately learn to go it alone.
Scarlet Feather - Maeve Binchy
They met in cooking school—and became fast friends with a common dream. Now, Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather hope to take Dublin by storm with their newly formed catering company, aptly dubbed “Scarlet Feather.” Not everyone, however, shares their optimism. Cathy’s mother-in-law disapproves of both Cathy and her new “hobby,” while Cathy’s husband Neil pays no mind to anything—except his work as a civil rights lawyer. And then there’s Tom’s family, who expect him to follow in his father’s footsteps, and an ambitious girlfriend who’s struggling with career dreams of her own. Between friends and families, ups and downs, heartaches and joys, Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather are about to embark on the most maddening—and exhilarating—year of their lives….
The Blackwater Lightship - Colm Toibin
It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother Lily, and her grandmother Dora have come together, after a decade of estrangement, to tend to Helen's beloved brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. Under the crumbling roof of Dora's old house, Declan's two friends join the women as each waits for the end. The six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs, are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other.
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.