I was in the mood to read something set in Ireland this morning, and I assume I’m not the only one. Here’s a short list of my favorites.
Zara Keane’s Love and Blarney: the entire Ballybeg series is charming, but this was my favorite as I’m a sucker for marriage in trouble. If you’re looking for rural-set fluffy contemporary Irish romance, Keane has got you covered.
Nora Robert’s Born in Fire: so I’m not the biggest Nora fan in the world. I know, I know: my Nora-loving grandmother was shocked too. But of the Noras I’ve read, this was my favorite. It’s set in contemporary Ireland and features a glass sculptor heroine and a gallery owner hero who’s determined to get her next piece–and her heart.
Laurel McKee’s Duchess of Sin: I love the entire Daughers of Erin historical romance series. The second book is set during the contentious debate over the Act of Union. The hero is a Republican duke and the heroine is the daughter of an Anglo-Irish landowner who is coming face to face with her privilege.
LH Cosway’s Still Life with Strings: Cosway writes cracktastic, strongly voiced romances set in contemporary Ireland. At times her books push against my comfort level, but they’re always different than anything else on the market and I find them almost impossible to put down. Her plots often feature incredible coincidences that, when the book is working for me, delight me (though they annoy me if not). This one features a street performer and a classical violinist. Trigger warnings for grief, alcoholism, and child abduction (in back story).
Other Irish-Set Recommendations
Seamus Heaney’s Opened Ground: I don’t regularly read poetry for fun, but I do read Heaney. He’s accessible and humane; he never overwrites, and, in his work, I always find something new. I would also recommend the prose collection Finders Keepers.
Eavan Boland’s Object Lessons: this memoir by poet Boland is a deeply moving exploration of writing as a political act and the connections between womanhood and art. I dip in and out of it regularly. You’ll also want her selected poems, Outside History.
Tana French’s In the Woods: I am not good with scary. Not at all good with scary. But French is such a magnificent writer, that I’m dealing with it. This is the first book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, and while the central crime plot is gripping, it’s the characterization and friendship between the cops that keeps me reading.
Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn: I read this after seeing the movie, and, unsurprisingly, liked the book even better than the film (which is admittedly lovely). The protagonist is divided between Ireland and the United States–and between two men–as she tries to decide what she wants her life to be. The story is simply told, but I found the last act to be surprisingly powerful.