Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Reading of the Green

With St. Pat's Day coming up,it's my duty as an American of Irish descent to give folks some proper recommendations for good books to read that will put you in the Emerald Isle state of mind without hitting a pub(hey,I'm Irish,I can make the jokes,ok?!). Instead of the usual James Joyce/Frank McCourt somber stories,let's have some fun here,shall we?

First on my list is a book I picked up while on my way back from England and I've read it twice since then. Isobel's Wedding tells the tale of a expectant bride whose boyfriend decides two weeks before the wedding that he doesn't want to get married and thinks they should just go as if nothing had happened .Nice,right? Isobel decides to take a job in Spain to get a fresh start on her life.

Spain works out pretty well for her,with its easygoing lifestyle and a new love in her life,Nico. Eventually tho,the jerkweed ex-fiancee shows up to rekindle the flames. Yes,she has to chose between them but her decision is made in a relatable human way and not in some melodramatic fashion. This may not seem very Irish,with a good chunk of the book set in Spain,but the adjustments to her new surroundings make Isobel akin to many of the Irish who have taken themselves to parts unknown for a ne life. Isobel's Wedding by Sheila O'Flanagan is not yet available in the US(Flanagan does have some novels reprinted in America such as He's Got To Go)but you can buy it at Amazon.com UK.

Glass Lake is one of my favorite Maeve Binchy novels-I know Circle of Friends is pretty popular(and a great Minnie Driver movie)but this one is rather touching. In the small town of Lough Glass,frustrated housewife Helen McMahon runs off with an old lover from her past,Louis,leaving a sealed note for her mild mannered husband Martin. Helen's young daughter Kit finds the note first and burns it,thinking it to be a suicide note(her mother had been showing strong signs of depression)that wouldn't allow her mom to be given a Christian burial.

Due to a boating accident in the area,everyone including Martin believes that Helen is dead and Helen even finds that out herself,mistakenly blaming Martin. Despite having a new life in London with Louis,Helen still longs for her children and writes to Kit under the guise of being an old friend of her mother's. Kit decides at one point to meet the mysterious"Lena" and a whole can of worms opens on them both.

This is not just the story of Kit and Helen but of the whole village;Kit's brother Emmet who slowly overcomes his stutter,Sister Madeline,an eccentric nun that becomes the wise old oracle of the neighborhood and Maura Kelly who falls in love with Martin and wants to marry him. Glass Lake is such an engrossing book that I actually got mad at one of the characters and wanted to smack her(not getting into details because I don't want to ruin the story for those who haven't read it,which is a more smackworthy offense). Glass Lake is a tale of love and community that shows you how to be true to both without betrayal.

Sushi For Beginners should appeal to Ugly Betty fans as the novel is centered around the launch of a women's fashion magazine in Dublin. The Wilhemina part goes to Lisa Edwards,who feels demoted by the London office after pushing for a top spot in New York. Ashling Kennedy doesn't wear braces but has the Betty Suarez vibe as the eager to do well newcomer whose purse is packed with all sorts of survival gear for almost any occasion,from bandaids to a sewing kit. Ashling's friend Clodagh has the suburban homemaker's dream life but finds her eye wandering lately.

All three ladies have love interests that complicate their lives even further,with Ashling unexpectedly being romanced by slick and sleek boss Jack Devine(so Daniel Meade-ish,too!). Keyes' novels usually have a strong undertow of serious emotional issues for her characters,which this books only treads lightly upon. That doesn't make the story a total fluffernutter-rather,it's a enjoyable trip down the romantic runway with some good laughs along the catwalk.

May your irish eyes be smiling down on these pages and just remember,you can always rent some of those Leprechaun movies if you feel the need for a drinking game. Just take a shot whenever the phrase"pot of gold" is said. Only a suggestion,people,only a suggestion!

1 comment:

Pop Culture Diva said...

These all sound great. I'll have to check them out.