The books that got away - the best books you didn't read in 2015

Our regular book-clubbers pick out three picks you might have missed

Is one of your New Year's resolutions to read more? Well, we've got you covered... 

The Pat Kenny Show book-club regulars were back with the best books they felt didn't get enough love this year, with singer Brian Kennedy, former cabinet minister Mary O'Rourke and comedienne Katherine Lynch picking out the following books for our reading pleasure.

THE MAXIMALIST: THE RISE AND FALL OF TONY O'REILLY by Matt Cooper

via GillMacMillan Books

 

Tony O’Reilly strode into the twenty-first century an Irishman apart. Strikingly good-looking, athletically gifted, irresistibly charismatic and phenomenally wealthy, he had everything any man could want. For many, he was a hero, the living embodiment of Irish potential; for others, he was an arrogant and overbearing presence at the heart of power. Without doubt, he was the most powerful unelected Irishman of the past 50 years.

His philosophy was simple: ‘I am a maximalist … I want more of everything.’

But it was never enough. And today, O’Reilly’s empire and the formidable reputation it established lie in tatters. In this landmark biography, Matt Cooper draws on an abundance of new material, including interviews with many of O’Reilly’s closest family, friends, associates and rivals, to uncover the man behind the myth. An Irish epic, it documents in unflinching detail and with great subtlety the meteoric rise and slow unraveling of an Irish icon.

BITTER FREEDOM: IRELAND IN A REVOLUTIONARY WORLD 1918 - 1923 by Maurice Walsh

via Amazon

Bitter Freedom is a new history of the Irish Revolution, placing Ireland in the global disorder born of the terrible slaughter of total war, as well as a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human face of the conflict. The Irish Revolution - the war between the British authorities and the newly-formed IRA - was the first successful revolt anywhere against the British Empire. But it was not alone. Nationalist movements across the world were fired by the American promise of self-determination. For too long, the story of Irish independence and its aftermath has been told within an Anglo-Irish context. Now, in a vividly written and compelling narrative, Maurice Walsh shows that Ireland was part of a civilization in turmoil. A national revolution which captured worldwide attention from India to Argentina was itself profoundly shaped by international events, political, economic and cultural. In the era of Bolshevism and jazz, developments in Europe and America had a profound effect on Ireland, influencing the attitudes and expectations of combatants and civilians. The hopes, dreams and bitter disappointments of the revolutionary years affected everyone in Ireland whether they fought or not.

THE LIVES OF WOMEN by Christine Dwyer Hickey

via christinedwyerhickey.com

Elaine Nichols returns home after a long exile spent in New York to live in the home of her childhood with her invalid father and his geriatric Alsatian dog. The house backing on to theirs is sold and as the old furniture is removed to make way for the new, she is taken back in time to a summer in the 1970’s when she was almost sixteen. Then, this small out-of-town estate was an enclave for women and children while the men were mysterious shadows who left every day for the outside world. The women were isolated but kept their loneliness and frustrations hidden behind a veneer of suburban respectability. When an American mother and daughter moved into the estate, the veneer began to crack. The women learned how to socialise, how to drink martinis, how to care less about their wifely and maternal duties.  While the women were distracted, Elaine and her friends found their own entry into the adult world. The result would be a tragic event that would mark the rest of Elaine’s life, and be the cause of a long and guilt-ridden exile.

Insightful and full of suspense, this is an uncompromising portrayal of the suburbs and the cruelties brought about by the demands of respectability. Here is a novel that will truly make us think about the lives of women.