Summer is the perfect time to relax, unwind, and immerse ourselves in captivating stories that transport us to different worlds. As the days get longer and the sun shines brighter, it's time to curate a list of delightful writers who can accompany us on your adventures. In this blog post, we celebrate some of the Queens of Irish Popular Fiction - their novels are the epitome of feel-good summer reading, filled with warmth, humor, and compelling narratives, even when times are tough and bad things happen, there is resillence and optimism woven through and I for one am immensely grateful for their skill!
Felicity Hayes McCoy, known for her enchanting storytelling, weaves tales that capture the essence of Irish culture and community. Her novels, such as ‘The Year of Lost and Found’, ‘The Keepsake Quilters’ and ‘Summer at the Garden Café," introduce us to charming characters and picturesque settings. With a touch of magic and a strong sense of place, her books transport readers to the idyllic landscapes of Ireland. We can immerse ourselves in her vivid descriptions and relish the heartwarming stories that celebrate love, friendship, and the power of community.
Caroline Grace Cassidy's novels empower us with stories of resilience, self-discovery, and the triumph of the human spirit. Through works like ‘When Love Takes Over’ and ‘The Week I Ruined My Life’, she explores the complexities of relationships, personal growth, and finding one's true path. Cassidy's vibrant characters and engaging plots will captivate from the first page to the last, leaving us inspired and cheering for the protagonists as they navigate life's challenges and as for her Lexie Bryne novels … I want her to be my best friend!
Sheila O’Flanagan is a master of crafting compelling tales that engage readers, and her work rate is prodigious! Last year saw the release of ‘Three Weddings and a Proposal’, as well as ‘What Eden Did Next’, this year has already seen the paperback release of Eden AND ‘The Woman on the Bridge’, a historical novel, set during the War of Independence and based on the life of Sheila’s own grandmother. Her novels take us on journeys of self-discovery, love, with unexpected twists and turns and her writing effortlessly transports us to stunning locations around the world, igniting our wanderlust and even if we are going no further than our back garden, providing us with the perfect escape.
Beloved Irish author, Patricia Scanlon is known for her captivating stories that explore the complexities of love, friendship, and family dynamics. Her novels, such as ‘City Girl’, ‘The Liberation of Bridgid Dunne’, and ‘Divided Loyalties’, have won the hearts of readers around the world as they are filled with warmth, humor, and relatable characters, making her books perfect companions for cozy reading sessions. She tackles a range of relatable themes such as career aspirations, romantic relationships, and personal growth, combining lighthearted moments with emotional depth, seemingly effortlessly, resulting in stories that resonate with us on a profound level.
Marian Keyes is deservedly highly acclaimed for her witty and authentic storytelling; I always think the expression ‘chick lit’ was invented for Keyes and some of the other female writers of the 90s as a way of dismissing their enormous success and impact, but that the subject of a blog for another day! Novels, including ‘Rachel's Holiday’, ‘Grown Ups’ and ‘Rachel Again’, have garnered both critical acclaim and a devoted fan base. Keyes tackles a wide range of topics such as relationships, addiction, mental health, and societal pressures, featuring relatable heroines who navigate life's ups and downs, offering us an honest and unfiltered glimpse into the complexities of women's lives with sharp wit and keen observations and she is laugh out loud, snort tea, funny!
Emma Hannigan was an Irish author who wrote heartwarming novels characterized by themes of hope, resilience, and the power of human connections. Her books, such as ‘The Wedding Promise’, ‘Letters to My Daughters’, and 'The Summer Guest’ touch our hearts with their optimism and relatable characters, delving into family dynamics, personal growth and overcoming adversity. Her writing resonates with us because of her ability to capture the essence of the human spirit, even in the face of challenges, and her stories remind us of the importance of cherishing our loved ones and embracing the joys that life has to offer. She died so young, in 2018 at only 46 and that she authored these stories fully of warmth and optimism whilst living with a terminal illness makes the reading of them all the more profound and moving.
If you are on the lookout for a captivating and heartwarming reading experience, the works of the Irish writer Cathy Kelly have carved out a special place in contemporary women's fiction. Reading her novels is like being enveloped in a warm hug from an old friend as her stories tackle universal themes of love, friendship, family, self-discovery, self-acceptance, pursuing one's passions, and finding meaning all, set against the backdrop of Ireland's picturesque landscapes and her style is both engaging and accessible, making her books a joy to read. ‘Other Women’, ‘Secrets of a Happy Marriage’ and ‘The Family Gift’ explore the complexities of human relationships and offers insights into the power of resilience and personal growth, with strong and independent women and flawed but lovable protagonists.
And the mother of these Queens?! Maeve Binchy! I was a teen when ‘Light a Penny Candle’ was published, my Mum and all her friends were Irish nurses married to English men … her books became the currency of the 80s, where once they had smuggled Edna O’Brien into Ireland to their sisters at home, now they begged for their sisters to send them the latest Binchy. Her work left an indelible mark on the literary world with heartfelt and relatable stories, ‘Circle of Friends’, ‘Tara Road’, and ‘The Lilac Bus’, captured the hearts of millions of readers around the globe – I read my own version of ‘Echoes’ until it literally fell to pieces.
Binchy possessed a unique ability to create richly drawn characters that felt like old friends; her stories revolved around the lives of ordinary people facing universal challenges, exploring themes of love, friendship, family, and personal growth and through her warm and compassionate writing style, she tackled complex emotions with authenticity and empathy, striking a chord with readers of all ages. Often set in small Irish towns, she allowed us to immerse ourselves in the close-knit communities she portrayed with her vivid descriptions and keen observations, painting a vibrant picture of everyday life, her books feel like a comforting escape.
As you bask in the sunshine (all ten days of it when the exams are on) and savor the joys of summer, don't forget to indulge in the pleasure of a good book! The Queens are available both in new, where they reside resplendently, but also in Secondhand, where we have a huge range of their back catalogue! I am sure if requested, we could even pull together a 10-book mystery box of them Secondhand, so whether you are lounging on the beach, enjoying a picnic in the park, or simply unwinding in your garden, bring them with you and let yourself be transported, fill your heart with joy, and just breathe!