Today I’m delighted to feature author Roisin Meaney who was shortlisted this year by The Library Association of Ireland in their nominations for Author of the Year. This is supported by the fact that her books consistently make the Irish top ten bestseller list. Several have been translated (Polish, Slovenian, Norwegian, Danish, German, Italian and Russian) and she has also been published in Australia and the US. Her twentieth novel, Life Before Us, was published in June 2022 and she is currently dreaming up her next.
Roisin Meaney was fortunate enough to be born in County Kerry in the west of Ireland. In 2001, after thinking about it for over a decade, she began writing her first novel, The Daisy Picker. It won a Write a Bestseller competition and was published in 2004. Four years and three books later she packed in her teaching job to become a full-time writer.
She is the author of three children’s books, and once a month she tells stories to toddlers in her local library. She divides her time between Limerick city and West Clare, drinking too much tea in both places. She is a fan of cats, spotty bananas and random acts of kindness.
Over to Roisin :
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Killer Queen by Queen. The first single I bought as a 13ish year old. Listened to it on repeat for hours.
The Swan by Saint-Saëns. First time I heard it was when a music teacher played it during class, so of course I had to pretend to be as bored as all the pals, but I was smitten from the start. The ultimate de-stresser.
Au Clair de la Lune by Debussy. I’d like to say I discovered it while I was educating myself in classical music, but the truth is I heard it when Google used it in a Doodle thingy. I’m not proud – but it’s very sweet and lovely.
Into Temptation by Crowded House. A long-ago boyfriend introduced me to this group, and I became as big a fan as he was. Alas, our relationship didn’t turn into a happy ever after and we went our separate ways, but years later, I still sigh whenever I hear this song.
You’re a Lady by Peter Skellern. Another oldie, but still the most swoony-romantic song I’ve ever heard. One of the few performers I’ve gone to see in concert – I’m not a fan of crowds normally, prefer to listen to music in peace at home.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Anyone who knows me will know that spotty bananas are a must-eat food for me.
The radio. A room is too quiet without one (although I can’t listen when I’m writing).
My cats, whichever ones I currently live with. Right now it’s Charlie, a two-and-a-bit year old ginger female and Paddy and George, a pair of adorable tabby brothers I got from a cat sanctuary in August. They’re about 6 months old now, and bold as brass. Poor Charlie is tormented, but she’s slowly learning to offer it up.
My bath. Nothing like a good long bubbly soak after a busy day/week.
My car, a Mini Cooper. I love to walk, but the car is cute and wonderful when it’s further than my feet can take me.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Only 5! OK then….
Learn to say no.
Don’t follow the leader. Make up your own mind.
Drink more water. Use more sunscreen and moisturiser.
Don’t be seduced by bargain offers. Shop thoughtfully and wisely.
Think before you speak.
I could still take all that advice – growing older hasn’t made me wiser, sadly!
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I can recite the alphabet backwards. I learnt it one night as a teen when I was supposed to be doing homework. It’s my party piece.
There isn’t an ounce of rhythm in me. I can’t dance to save my life: I look like a puppet that’s being handled by someone very, very drunk indeed.
I won a car when I was 18. I couldn’t drive, I had no money and I was about to begin Uni. I sold the car, had a party, paid my college fees and bought a banger when I graduated. Pretty good return on the win.
I flew over Niagara Falls in a 6-seater plane. I was teaching in Zimbabwe at the time, and my boyfriend (not the Crowded House one) organised the plane ride as a surprise. I had to hide my terror and pretend to be delighted. I’m a horrible flyer.
I have a phobia about anything that bangs loudly. I tense up when I see someone inflating a balloon. Children’s parties are minefields.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Get a sniff of interest in any of the books from a film company. Mind you, I’d insist on writing the screenplay, picking the cast and working closely with the director, so I’m not hopeful!
Learn to play a musical instrument – but see answer 2 of the things people don’t know about me. I’ve attempted and failed the piano, guitar and ukulele, so I’m not sure if there’s any instrument I could master. Maybe the triangle…..
Learn to swim properly – and part b of that is conquer my abhorrence of jellyfish: can’t abide them.
Grow an extra four inches in height. I’m not hopeful here either……
Create a beautiful garden – and here I have some hope. I’m working on it.
Many thanks for joining me today Roisin, it’s been lovely to discover more about you. Thanks for suggesting some fantastic music choices. I got a very nostalgic for the 70’s and The Swan has always been one of my favourite classical pieces. Unfortunately, I can’t get so on board with spotty bananas – I avoid them like the plague! Now when it comes to balloons, urgh, I hate them, there’s even a name for it – Globophobia, and for most people it’s the sound of them popping that affects most people. I love your advice to your younger self, I need to remember not to be seduced by bargain offers even now! I hope you get to achieve your dreams, though good luck with that extra four inches!
(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)
Life Before Us
Three facts about George:
His daughter Suzi is the best thing in his life.
He thinks it might finally be time to get over Suzi’s mum.
He’s never tried online dating but there’s a first time for everything.
Three facts about Alice:
She’s about to find out that her boyfriend is lying to her.
She never expected to return to her hometown (especially not without a job or a place to live).
Even though her heart has been trampled on, she’s still holding out for love.
One fact about love:
It’s out there for George and Alice.
All that needs to happen is for them to meet…
The Book Club
In the small seaside town of Fairweather, the local book club – a tight-knit group – is still reeling in the aftermath of a tragic accident.
Lil Noonan hasn’t spoken a word since, and her grandmother Beth is worried that she plans to spend the rest of her life hidden away with only books for company. Beth, meanwhile, is trying to keep busy with the running of the local library and decides to make a fresh start by renting out her daughter’s now-empty house to a newcomer in town.
Tom McLysaght tells the book club that he’s eager to escape his high-flying life in London. Closer to the truth is that he’s hiding a much bigger secret, one he can’t escape from, no matter how hard he tries.
As the months pass and the book club continues to meet, Beth starts to open up to the idea that the future might still have some happiness to offer to her grand-daughter – and to her as well. But will they have the courage to reach for it? And will Tom trust them enough to reveal his secret?
It’s That Time of Year
It’s the day before the wedding …
Three strangers arrive home to Ireland to the house that gave each of them refuge when they needed it most. They are there to celebrate the winter wedding of their beloved Annie, the woman who fostered them in their childhoods.
Now Julia is a world-famous singer living in luxury in Paris and Eddie is a chef in London, while Steph spends her days on a remote Greek island, running a writers’ retreat with her older lover.
All three have moved on from the past, but as the wedding celebrations get underway, certain truths come to light. It turns out that some hurts last longer than others …
As Annie says ‘I do’, with an unexpected twist for her wedding party, will Julia, Eddie and Steph discover their own happy-ever-afters in time for the big day?
When Emily’s heart was broken by the love of her life, she never imagined that she would find herself, just two years later, running a small restaurant in what used to be her grandmother’s tiny hat shop. The Food of Love offers diners the possibility of friendship (and maybe more) as well as a delicious meal. And even though Emily has sworn off romance forever, it doesn’t stop her hoping for happiness for her regulars, like widower Bill who hides a troubling secret, single mum Heather who ran away from home as a teenager, and gentle Astrid whose past is darker than any of her friends know.
Then, out of the blue, Emily receives a letter from her ex. He’s returning home to Ireland and wants to see her. Is Emily brave enough to give love a second chance — or wise enough to figure out where it’s truly to be found?
Three couples. One weekend. Everything is about to change…
It’s the Bank Holiday weekend and the Cunningham family are escaping to their holiday home by the sea, as they’ve done every summer for many years.
Except that now, parents Lily and Charlie are waiting for their divorce papers to come through — and have their new partners in tow.
Their daughter Poll is there with her boyfriend and is determined to make known her feelings for Chloe, her father’s new love. While her brother Thomas also has feelings for Chloe — of a very different nature…
And amid all the drama, everyone has forgotten that this weekend also happens to be Lily and Charlie’s wedding anniversary.
Will any of the couples survive the weekend intact?
The Street Where You Live
When a heatwave coincides with rehearsals for an end-of-summer concert, temperatures soar – so too do the small town scandals …
It turns out that some members of the choir have secrets they are desperate to keep hidden.
Christopher, the handsome and talented director, is embroiled in a steamy affair with someone who is strictly off-limits; Molly has become obsessed with a young boy whom she’s convinced is her grandson; while Emily has just fallen in love – with the wrong man.
As opening night approaches, it becomes clear that there are some tough decisions to be made. But until the curtain falls, you never know what might happen on The Street Where You Live.
It’s their twenty-year school reunion but the Plunkett sisters have their own reasons for not wanting to attend …
Caroline, now a successful knitwear designer, spends her time flying between her business in England and her lover in Italy. As far as she’s concerned, her school days, and what happened to her the year she left, should stay in the past.
Eleanor, meanwhile, is unrecognisable from the fun-loving girl she was in school. With a son who is barely speaking to her, and a husband keeping a secret from her, revisiting the past is the last thing on her mind.
But when an unexpected letter arrives for Caroline in the weeks before the reunion, memories are stirred.
Will the sisters find the courage to return to the town where they grew up and face what they’ve been running from all these years?
Two Fridays in April
It’s Una Darling’s seventeenth birthday, but nobody feels much like celebrating. It’s been exactly a year since the tragic death of her father Finn, and the people he left behind have been doing their best to get on with things. But it hasn’t been easy.
Daphne is tired of sadness, of mourning the long life she and her husband were meant to share, but doesn’t quite know how to get past it. And she can’t seem to get through to her stepdaughter — they barely speak anymore, so Daphne knows nothing of the unexpected solace Una has found, or of the risk she’s about to take.
When Una fails to appear for a birthday tea with her family, Daphne suddenly realises how large the distance between them has grown. Will she be given the chance to make things right?
Something in Common
The friendship starts with a letter…from aspiring writer Sarah to blunt but witty journalist Helen, complaining about Helen’s most recent book review. And there begins a correspondence that blossoms into a friendship which spans over two decades.
As the years pass, the women exchange details of loves lost and found, of family joys and upheavals. Sarah’s letters filled with thoughts on her outwardly perfect marriage and her aching desire for children, and Helen’s on the struggle of raising her young daughter alone.
But little do they realise that their story began long before Sarah penned that first letter – on one unforgettable afternoon where, during a distraught conversation on a bridge, Sarah changed the course of Helen’s life forever.
This is the story of Helen and Sarah, and the friendship that was part of their destiny.
The People Next Door
Behind the brightly coloured doors of Miller’s Avenue live people with very complicated lives…
When Yvonne in number 7 joins an online dating website, she’s looking for something more than friendship but after a series of disastrous encounters, decides to shut down her account. Is she shutting out her only chance of finding love?
While next door Dan, still reeling from his wife’s desertion, signs up for a cookery course. As his lemon souffle rises, so does his interest in someone close to home …
Further along, Kathryn is struggling to keep her marriage together despite the best efforts of her interfering mother-in-law. As tension grows between the two women, Kathryn wonders if Grainne will finally succeed, as she realises that she may never give her husband Justin what he wants.
As the drama unfolds along Millers Avenue, the inhabitants learn that the things you most yearn for can often be found on your own doorstep.
The Things We Do for Love
One crisp September evening art teacher Audrey Matthews sits alone in room six at Carrickbawn Senior College, wondering if anyone is going to sign up for her Life Drawing for Beginners class.
By eight o’clock six people have arrived. Six strangers who will spend two hours together every week until Halloween, learning the fine art of life drawing.
Nobody could have predicted on that cold autumn day the profound effect the class would have on its students and their lives.
Least of all Audrey, the biggest beginner of all, who is to discover that once you keep an open mind, life – and love – can throw up more than a few surprises …
Half Seven on a Thursday
As opening night nears for a local amateur production, the cast begin to realise that the real drama is taking place off-stage — and in life there’s no such thing as a dress rehearsal …
When Edward Bull agreed to direct the amateur production of Death by Dying, he thought it would take his mind off his wife’s recent affair. He was soon to discover, however, that all the real drama was taking place off-stage …
Maria, trapped in a loveless marriage to an older man, makes an appalling discovery. If pushed, she knows she will do whatever it takes to protect her vulnerable son, Pat. But will she find the strength to do the one thing that would save them both?
Her sister Ellen, scarred after a tragic motorbike accident, seeks comfort where she can find it. Will she finally come to terms with what happened . . . and, perhaps, open her heart to love again?
Handsome, charming Robert glides through life. When Caroline threatens to take his sons away from him, however, he realises that everything he ever wanted was right under his nose. But is it too late?
As the weeks pass, the cast members of Death by Dying are brought together and their lives intertwine. And, as opening night draws near, they learn that in life there’s no such thing as a dress rehearsal.
The Last Week of May
May O’Callaghan has decided that life’s too short and she’s decided to throw in the towel in her predictable nine-to-five job. Now what?
As May fits into her new life we meet her friend Pam and her husband Jack – but why is Pam terrified to tell Jack that she’s pregnant?
And then there’s Denis and Bernard, May’s next-door neighbours, going about their business oblivious to the deadly threat that lurks close by.
There’s Paddy, who lives on his own yet never seems to be at home.
And Paul, three doors up, willing to risk everything for an affair with Carmel, the young teacher who has yet to learn that there’s a price to pay for having something that shouldn’t be yours.
But what May can’t figure out is who gave her the beautiful shell necklace and was it really meant for her?
On this one particular week, all is about to change for the inhabitants of Kilpatrick and May discovers that while only love can break your heart, only love can put it back together.
Love in the Making
Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when, out of the blue, her boyfriend Patrick announces that he’s leaving her for another woman.
Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare.
So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline – seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in early-morning icing, she soon discovers that she’s too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend . . . or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake . . .
But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice’s is falling apart. Her husband Tom’s drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse.
As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she’s figuring out what’s really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.
Putting Out the Stars
‘What was it that Ruth had once said, something about them being like spaghetti people, all tangled up together …’
Laura and Donal, Breffni and Cian, Andrew and Ruth: three contented young Irish couples, gathering at each other’s houses for dinner parties, bound together by shared memories of childhood adventures. But beneath the cosy contentment of their lives lie tensions that threaten to erupt at any moment.
Andrew, Laura’s handsome brother, has just returned home from Crete with his bride in tow, the surprisingly timid Ruth, who is finding it hard to fit in with Andrew’s overbearing mother, Cecily. And, to her increasing concern, Andrew doesn’t seem to have his mind entirely on her …
Laura is desperate to have a family, and can’t understand why Donal doesn’t seem to share her only wish. And the beautiful, glamorous Breffni, with her lovely husband, Cian, and the golden child, Polly, well, she has the greatest surprise of all …
The Daisy Picker
Lizzie seems to have it all: loving parents, a nice creative sideline in mouth-watering cakes, and the most eligble man in Kilmorris waiting to marry her. But one day she stumbles across something that will change her life. Soon she’s chucked a backpack into her car and set off into the Wild West – of Ireland, that is – in search of adventure.
She’s in for a few surprises – there’s sexy Pete for a start, a charming new home, true friendship and an offer that will make her sweet dreams a reality. She begins to think that things could hardly be more perfect.
And then she meets Joe, who’s about to turn her life upside down …
One Summer (Book 1)
Nell Mulcahy grew up on the island so when the old stone cottage by the edge of the sea went up for sale, the decision to move back from Dublin was easy.
But when Nell decides to rent out her cottage for the summer to help raise money her forthcoming wedding to Tim, she’s unprepared for what’s about to happen …
As she welcomes holiday-makers to her cottage, Nell must face some truths: about her upcoming wedding to Tim, and her friendship with his brother, James.
And, meanwhile, her father delivers some astounding news which leaves Nell, her mother and the island reeling …
But will Nell make it down the aisle?
One thing’s for sure, it’s a summer on the island that nobody will ever forget.
After the Wedding (Book 2)
The residents of Roone are getting ready for a summer of love, secrets and drama.
After a bumpy start, Nell and James have finally said ‘I do’ and everything seems to be falling into place. Nell is getting comfortable in her new role as stepmother to James’ sixteen-year-old son Andy, she’s finally mending fences with her father and she’s ready to look to the future.
Then Nell’s ex-fiancé Tim – her husband James’ brother – comes back to Roone, a place he’s never liked, and she begins to feel uneasy. As the summer days roll by, and Tim seems in no hurry to return to his wife and daughter, Nell is finding it more and more difficult to enjoy her new beginning.
But when the little island of Roone is rocked by the disappearance of a young child, Nell realises that life can change in a single moment. Will happiness be restored before the autumn comes?
I’ll be Home for Christmas (Book 3)
It’s three days before Christmas . . .
Tilly boards a plane on the other side of the world. She’s determined to reach Roone, a small island off the west coast of Ireland, in time for Christmas Day. Tilly carries a troubling secret and Laura, a woman she’s never met, might be the only one who can help her.
Except that Laura has no idea that Tilly exists. And with five children, a mother-in-law stranded on the island and a husband with whom she’s barely on speaking terms, an unexpected Christmas guest is the last thing she needs.
As Tilly’s journey brings her ever closer to Roone, a storm is also heading for the island – will she make it in time for Christmas?
The Birthday Party (Book 4)
Another summer is in full swing on Roone, an island off the west coast of Ireland, and preparations are underway for a big birthday party at the local hotel. But before then, love and friendship will be tested …
Who is the stranger who arrives at Imelda’s door, just weeks after her world falls to pieces?
How long can Eve hide her secret from Andy?
And will Nell and Laura’s friendship survive the storm that’s about to hit the island?
For Younger Readers
Don’t Even Think About It
Hi, I’m Liz Jackson. I’m 13 (almost).
I’m also a latchkey kid since Mam walked out: now it’s just me and Dad and big-bum Marjorie, oh, and my best friend Bumble (soon to be ex-best friend).
Things I love: White Musk perfume, Eminem, pepperoni and pineapple pizza and the pizza delivery boy.
Things I hate: the girl next door, my Dad’s lumpy porridge and my gross chin dimple.
Things I’m terrified of: my first date (coming up soon), my first date (not long now), and my first date (just around the corner).
This is my diary. Anyone who opens it will die a slow and horrible death.
So Don’t Even Think About It!
See if I Care
Two schools, one in Ireland and one in England, have decided to set up a pen-pal programme between their pupils. Luke is hoping to get an English boy to write to, but instead he gets stuck with Elma, who would prefer an Irish girl as her penpal. Reluctantly, the two begin their correspondence.
Life is not going well for either Luke or Elma, so they invent new, more glamorous lives for themselves in their letters, little realising how similar their true lives actually are.
However, when things take a turn for the worse, Elma has no one to confide in except Luke. He offers some useful advice and in turn tells the truth about his life and family.
Together they realise that things are beginning to look up….
Ok another I’ll have to ck out. Loved the post.
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Thanks Virginia x
Reblogged this on Judith Barrow and commented:
A lovely Five on Friday with Roisin Meaney – and oh…The Swan by Saint-Saëns – a long-time favourite. And a great choice of brilliant books! Thanks both
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Thanks Judith x
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