Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!
(Sorry – not a TBR list for Spring/Fall.)
Yes, I know that this week’s topic was suppose to be our Spring/Fall 2020 TBR list, but when I noticed that today would be the 17th, and therefore St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it more appropriate to see if I have read 10 Irish authors. Remember, I grew up in Chicago, the city that dies the Chicago River green to celebrate this holiday! So how could I ignore it? What I found was that although I haven’t written reviews for all of them, I certainly have read all of these authors.
The Chocolate Lady’s Top Ten List of Irish Authors I’ve Read
(in alphabetical order):
Cecelia Ahern – Ahern is is probably best known for her 2004 debut novel “
Sebastian Barry – I didn’t know this Irish author until I met up with an internet friend while on one of my vacation trips to Ireland. He was absolutely adamant that I had to read Barry’s novel, “The Secret Scripture.” I took his advice, and if you take a look at my review, you’ll see that I’m very glad that I did! Unfortunately, I haven’t read more of his works, but I certainly would like to! I’ve noticed that many of his books all take place in the Irish town of Sligo, during different time periods.
Maeve Binchy – The first book of Binchy I read was “Circle of Friends” back in the early 1990s (which was made into a movie in 1995 starring the then, mostly unknown Minnie Driver), and I really enjoyed that book and her writing. That’s why I went back and read her 1985 novel “Echoes” (which was a TV mini-series that I never saw), which was also just lovely. Of course, I don’t have reviews of either of these books, but in the latter, there was a scene I’ll never forget, when Clare asks David if she can make him eggs for dinner and he asks for an omelet, and she doesn’t know how to make one. That scene sticks out in my head as a perfect example of showing and not telling! Unfortunately, Binchy passed away in 2012, but left us with many books of hers to read in the future.
Clare Boylan – This name is almost assuredly the least known of all the authors I’m noting here. I’ve only read one of her novels, “Emma Brown” which she based on Charlotte Brontë’s unfinished manuscript by the same name. As you’ll see from my review, Boylan took a twist with this book that I’m unsure Charlotte would have considered using herself. That said, it was a compelling book and there are pieces of it that I can remember quite vividly. Boylan passed away in 2006.
James Joyce – No list of Irish authors would be complete without including Joyce. I had to read “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” for college, but that didn’t put me off Joyce (as difficult as it was). I went on to read “The Dubliners” which included the short story “The Dead.” That story blew my mind, it was so amazing. We saw one movie they made in 1987 of that story, and although it was very good, of course the story was much better.
Frank McCourt – I wasn’t sure if I should include McCourt on this list, since he wrote non-fiction and not fiction. But I did read his debut memoir “Angela’s Ashes” which won him the Pulitzer Prize, and it really read like fiction to me. That’s an extraordinary talent, and while I have his subsequent book “‘Tis” on my shelf, I’m sorry to say that I’ve never gotten around to reading it. (We might also have the third book “Teacher Man” as well.) I actually read “Angela’s Ashes” after I saw the film they made of that book, and to tell the truth, they were equally as good!
Maggie O’Farrell – Okay, my regular readers already know that O’Farrell is one of my favorite authors, and I’m totally thrilled that her publisher has given me the ARC of her upcoming novel, “Hamnet” to read! Mind you, that didn’t stop me from ordering a print copy of it as well (which, apparently, is already winging its way to me as I write this)! She too wrote a (beautiful, heartbreaking, but yet still very hopeful) memoir, “I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death” that read like fiction, and which made it onto my “best of” list for 2018. So far, my favorite of her books is still the one I read first, “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.” But I’ve read EVERYTHING she’s written and I don’t intend to stop now!
Jonathan Swift – Here’s yet another classic for you all. To be honest, I actually only read his “Gulliver’s Travels” quite late in life, and after I’d seen many film versions of the book. That includes the 1939 animated version, which was televised in the early 60s, and was one of the first things aired in color on TV (I vividly remember having three friends come over to my house to watch it on our color TV). When I finally read the book (in the late 90s), one thing struck me. In the world where Gulliver finds is filled with an intelligent species of horses, these horses call humans “Yahoos” which is a word that Swift coined to mean “a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person”. I’ve always wondered how that meaning morphed into a word that is an expression of happiness and elation. If anyone knows, please tell me!
Colm Tóibín – My husband was the one to turn me on to Tóibín’s books, but I’ve only read one of his novels, and that was “Nora Webster” which I enjoyed very much (with a couple of small caveats). I’m sure most people have read his most popular book “Brooklyn” and/or seen the film they made of it, but according to my husband, it isn’t a very good adaptation of the book (he saw it as an in-flight movie when traveling for work), and he won’t let me watch it! Maybe I should read the book, though. I really enjoyed his writing in Nora Webster, and appreciated his ability to write such a rich and well rounded female protagonist, that felt very realistic to me.
Oscar Wilde – Last but not least, the amazing poet, playwright, and novelist who was jailed and put to hard labor for the “crime” of being a homosexual! I have read ALL of his plays, and seen many productions of them – both on stage and on screen. Back in my High School days, I took theater classes, and through them performed both monologues and scenes from “The Importance of Being Ernest” and “Lady Windermere’s Fan”. Although I don’t often re-read novels, I have read Wilde’s plays over and over and over again! Aside from that, I also have a second-hand, leather bound copy of his novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” The inside cover of my edition (which looks much like the one in this picture) shows it was one of a Modern Library series of books published by Boni and Liveright, which from my Google searches show that my edition was probably published in about 1918 or 1919 (OMG, I have a book that’s about 100 years old on my shelf)!
Speaking of Ireland – I’ve been there three times. Once on my own, and twice with my husband. On our last visit, we were driving around along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (looking at all the anti-Brexit signs), when we came across a sign pointing to the factor for Hazel Mountain Chocolates! Well, of course, being true to my moniker, we HAD to make a side trip and visit (as well as buy some of their bean-to-bar, boutique, hand made goods). Here’s a slideshow of our pictures from the visit!