Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Favorites From... Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield 

I don’t read much Irish fiction, I don’t read much chick lit, and I’m not generally a fan of sibling series (sorry, Mackade, MacKerrick, and all other MacHunkyBrothers fans!) – but when Jen asked me to write about a series I love, I immediately thought of Irish author Marian Keyes and her series of novels about the Irish Walsh sisters.

I found this series many years ago, completely by accident. The first book was titled WATERMELON – which isn’t much of a title, if you ask me (though the many editors who’ve rejected what I thought were perfectly good titles for my own novels might disagree) – and I nearly passed it up because I thought the cover was, well, a bit too frothy for a serious reader like myself.

But then I started to read, and within half a page I was hooked. I don’t know if I put that book down once – I read it at the breakfast table, in the carpool lane, at the gym, and I even read it out loud to my then-much-younger daughter at bedtime. As soon as it was over I picked up the next in the series. As I write this, I believe I’ve talked myself into starting over again at the beginning.

The five Walsh sisters have sprung from a very odd, very flawed Dublin family. The mom is addicted to soap operas (yet another thing I generally avoid) and the dad is a bit of a rube. No, make that a lot of a rube. They aren’t just charmingly quirky, they’re occasionally dangerously, frequently offensively, and often hurtfully quirky. The sisters don’t get along perfectly – they often don’t get along at all, even as each goes on a journey to find love. This isn’t slapstick comedy – it’s laugh-through-your-tears humor when it’s funny, and sometimes it’s just tears. But I love that kind of book: how zestily can you cheer a heroine who hasn’t suffered? How tight can your heartstrings be stretched unless you truly doubt that the lovers have a chance?

Lately, it’s become more common to see “difficult” themes in romantic fiction – even, and perhaps especially, that written for young adults. But a decade ago it was still rare. I was a fan of addiction memoirs at the time, but I’d never read a story like RACHEL’S HOLIDAY, which managed to be hilarious even though the main character steadfastly refuses to believe in her own addiction. The sisters battle jealousy – career and romantic – and estrangement and tragedy and delusion and a host of other issues that plague “real” families. Because I tend to focus on very dark themes, people are occasionally surprised to see me reading lighter women’s fiction. But I cherish the gentle, wry, very human characters who populate the novels of writers like Keyes – and Rachael Herron and Kristan Higgins and Marisa de los Santos and Elinor Lipman. I’m a cynic with a gimlet eye for human failing, but even I occasionally need to be reminded that love – with all of its awkwardness, unlikeliness, and even heartbreak – is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

Thanks so much to Sophie Littlefield for sharing her favorites with me. I asked Sophie to participate in this feature because her Aftertime trilogy rocked my socks off.  A post-apocalyptic world with zombies sets the backdrop for a very character-driven, wrenching story.  Now, you can give both Sophie's books and her recommendation a try. Just enter the Rafflecopter forms below for a chance to win Watermelon or the Aftertime trilogy. US only please.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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*"Favorites from..." photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos  

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At Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 12:43:00 PM CDT , Blogger Jolene and Family said...

No, I haven't read her books but I'm intrigued. They sound great!

Jolene A

At Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 6:33:00 PM CDT , Blogger erin said...

I haven't read Marian Keyes but the book sounds great!

At Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 9:54:00 AM CDT , Blogger Poison Rose said...

The books sound intriguing. I haven't read any by her yet, but I will be adding her to the TBR Stack/pile now.

At Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:26:00 PM CDT , Blogger Unknown said...

I love Marian Keyes! And it's weird'c but I've read all the books about the Walsh sisters except for Watermelon. My favorite is "Is Anybody Out There?"

At Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:51:00 PM CDT , Blogger JenM said...

I've heard of her, but I don't usually read chick lit, so I don't think I've read any of her books. This sounds different though than the usual story, so I'd love to give it a try.

At Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:15:00 AM CDT , Blogger artichoke8 said...

Thanks again for the giveaway! I just received the Aftertime trilogy and to top it off all 3 books are signed! thanks so much! -Kelly


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