St. Patrick’s Day is just a week from today! Want a way to celebrate that doesn’t involve loud parties, chugging Guinness, and pinching people who aren’t wearing green (or in addition to all that)? Why not check out some Irish American female authors? Some of the people on this list you’ve heard of but probably didn’t know were Irish. Others may be a lucky new find (just call me a leprechaun for showing you these treasures). Some of them frequently feature the Emerald Isle in their works and others don’t. In any case, what better way to show your Irish pride than by brandishing a nice shiny copy of one of their works and curling up in your room to read?
- Mary Higgins Clark — I know you know this “Queen of Suspense,” but did you know she was first generation Irish American on her father’s side and second on her mother’s side? (Source) I reviewed her first novel in one of my reading challenge posts (a love story about George Washington and his wife) but it was her first thriller, Where are the Children? that really brought her fame. Mary Higgins Clark has over 50 novels published to date. Plenty to keep you busy this St. Patrick’s Day.
- Kate Chopin — Born Catherine O’Flaherty , Kate was the daughter of a Galway immigrant and a French-American mother. (Source) She is most famous for her novel The Awakening, about a woman’s journey in discovering her own needs and desires. Edna Pontellier slowly learns to put herself first and follow her own path rather than the prescribed path of perfect wife and mother. Due to her female character’s independence and pursuit of self-actualization, Kate Chopin is considered one of the pioneering feminist authors of the 20th century. She has one other published novel and many short stories.
- Anne Rice — Anne Rice neé O’Brian is the Mother of the vampire romance genre. Her Vampire Chronicles series began with Interview with the Vampire, but I personally recommend The Vampire Lestat as a more exciting read.
- O.R. Melling — Okay, so O.R. Melling is technically Irish-Canadian, not Irish American, but she’s Irish and she’s on this side of the pond, so she counts! She herself was born in County Wicklow before her family emigrated to Canada when she was four. (Source) Irish themes feature heavily in her works, especially The Chronicle of Faerie series, which I mentioned in my Valentine’s Day post. The first installment in the series is called The Hunter’s Moon and nothing could be a better fit to read on this greenest of holidays.
- Sarah Rees Brennan — Sarah Rees Brennan is actually just Irish-Irish, born and raised, though she did live in New York long enough to make friends with a bunch of well-known American authors (Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, to name a few). (Source) I really wanted to include her, though, because she writes YA and I am currently reading Tell the Wind and the Fire (due to be published next month in April 2016). It is a beautifully written story about dark and light magic, doppelgangers, and love, loosely inspired as a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Brennan has also collaborated on works with some of the authors mentioned above, including working on The Bane Chronicles and Shadowhunter Academy with Cassandra Clare and others and The Demon’s Lexicon series with Justine Larbalestier.
Who will you be reading on the seventeenth? Are there any more Irish American women writers you want to give a shout out to?