I saw the wonderful Marian Keyes recommend this book on Twitter (it’s already been published in Ireland – where it’s set) and then found it was to be published in the UK in May – and so I could download an advanced review copy from Netgalley – so that I did!
Here’s the Amazon blurb:
“Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, the creators of the much-loved Aisling character and the popular Facebook page ‘Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling’, bring Aisling to life in their novel about the quintessential country girl in the big smoke.
Aisling is twenty-eight and she’s a complete … Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.
Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she’s lost two phones already this year – Aisling has never lost a phone). They love hoofing into the Coors Light if they’re ‘Out’, or the vodka and Diet Cokes if they’re ‘Out Out’.
Ais spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John’s. He’s from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.
But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents’ house, although she’d miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car ‘out for a spin’ and bringing it back full of petrol.
When a week in Tenerife with John doesn’t end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.
Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.”
First things first, I’m a Brummie with limited Irish connections – and so I think some of the references in this sailed right over my head, and I couldn’t even attempt the pronunciation of some of the names – but lots of it I did get, or could take a good guess at what it meant. Total target market would be late 20s / early 30s Irish women – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t, and others wouldn’t, enjoy it. The book goes in heavy on the Irishness at the start – and from reading other Netgalley reviews, I think that’s put some people off, as they just didn’t get it at all – but I’m not one for giving up – so persevered, and I’m glad I did as the story develops a lot more and you get to know Aisling and her family and friends much better. I suspect (although have not followed the Facebook group so can’t be sure) – that it started off with lots of the jokes off the Facebook page – but then had to be filled out with proper novel!
I liked Aisling straight away – in her no nonsense way. I was slightly concerned that I am *quite* Aisling with some things. Actually I think some of my friends should be more worried about the likeness, given Aisling works in pensions administration #mentioningnonames. In some ways Aisling’s naivety reminded me quite a lot of Eleanor Oliphant in one of my favourite books from last year, and there is a definite ‘Bridget Jones for 2018’ vibe going on too – Aisling knows the Weightwatchers points in EVERYTHING!
I was surprised that a chunk of the storyline is about a brain tumour – that’s not mentioned in any of the blurb I’d read – and, unfortunately, I know quite a lot of people who are involved in their own brain tumour issues at the moment – and this could easily blindside them. I will definitely be giving people a heads up about that part of the book – although maybe I’m just hyper aware of them and it wouldn’t be such an issue for other people. Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and people under 40, despite receiving less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research. You can donate here if you want to help find a cure for this horrible disease. Anyway – back to the book – which isn’t all doom and gloom at all.
You find yourself laughing at and with Aisling, cringing with her, crying with her – and all the time wanting the best for her. Big topics – particularly in Ireland – like gay marriage and abortion – are part of the storyline, but are weaved into it as normal everyday things, you don’t feel like a drum is being banged.
It’s generally an easy read book, with real laugh out loud moments, but also a heart. I’m not sure middle aged English women are target market – but I did still enjoy it.
This fits into my 2018 Reading Challenge as a book written by two authors. Thank you Netgalley for my free copy in return for an honest review.