Tuesday, 27 May 2014

May Random Recommendation Giveaway "Ruby's Tuesday" by Gillian Binchy & Author Interview

This is my second mention of Gillian Binchy's novel this month, but I cannot recommend it enough!  For anyone who has not heard of this story, please scroll down the page for my review and open your mind to a debut novel with both heart and soul......

What would you do if you were told that your unborn baby will be profoundly handicapped? What choices would you make? 

With her husband Luke away on an extended business trip to China, Afric Lynch goes for a routine ultrasound and is told this terrible news. Fearing that Luke will not have the strength to cope with the truth, she chooses not to tell him while he is so far away. 

Afric must face her dilemma and make her decisions alone...alone but for her little unborn companion who is with her every step of the way. 

Raw, painful, and often hilarious, this novel takes the reader through a kaleidoscope of emotions, on a mesmerising journey of love and heartache.

Gillian has very kindly allowed me to interview her about the creation of Ruby's Tuesday and how it has affected her both professionally and personally. 

As with all my Random recommendation, this Giveaway is open INT. Just enter via rafflecopter below and best of luck.


Gillian Binchy grew up on a farm in County Limerick. She studied in UCD, UL and Dublin Institute of Technology. Her love of travel and the outdoors, plus a passion for sea-swimming, inspired much of this debut novel. Gillian has worked both in Ireland and abroad in the travel and tourism industry for many years. She is married to Gary and they live in County Dublin. The loss of their daughter in May 2013 motivated her to write this book.


  1.       Have you always known you wanted to write?
Always but it took me a good twenty years to get going!  I started writing when I spent six months in the Australian outback – up in the Northern Territory outside Fitzroy Crossing, mustering cattle and working as a cow girl and cook during the mustering season. I wrote a lot up there. Every evening, after sitting around the campfire and chatting, there little else to do – so I wrote describing the screaming sunsets, the locals and their traditions, wrote about mustering. I sent those letters home and at the same time kept a very detailed journal then in 2007, I started a skiing novel. It was a love story set on the slopes in Austria – boy meets girls and happy-ever-after ending. I was busy having a great life and my writing discipline back then was not as good as it is now. Then I fell in love and sure that takes up time – a lot of time – making Gary fall in love with me and then with Ireland was in itself a full-time job! So my dream of writing once again took a back seat until the summer of 2013.

2.       This book is based on a very upsetting personal experience, do you think this made a difference to your writing style or would you have written with the same emotion with any subject?
Well, I think I am by nature an upbeat humorous so while the subject of the novel Ruby’s Tuesday is dark and painful, I didn’t want to deny the more joyful side of life or depress my readers too much! Some of the most serious scenes in the book, though heartbreakingly sad, are normalised by touches of humour and other times they are wrapped up in an entertaining style. I think in a bizarre way the story is uplifting and that is how I wanted it to be.  Looking back now, my writing style back in 2007 is very similar to style in Ruby’s Tuesday, uplifting, witty and straightforward. But I was also conscious of the fact that the humorous slant on things served a purpose particularly for this novel.

3.       Sharing your story was a very brave move that I, for one, cannot praise you enough for.  Were you worried that sharing it would bring unwanted attention to your personal life?
No, I was not particularly worried about unwanted attention. People to date have been extremely supportive and respectful and have not intruded in our lives in any way. We have only received encouragement and compassion – people have been truly supportive. Maybe it is because I believe that people are inherently good that I was not over anxious about unwanted attention.

4.       I have read that you got a three book deal from Poolbeg and Ward River Press. Have you got the writing bug now or do you worry about the dreaded second novel that so many authors talk about?

I have signed a three book deal with Poolbeg Press as part of the Ward River press imprint. To date most of my attention has been focused on the publicity for Ruby’s Tuesday and it has been very busy! So when all that is done, then I can really focus on the second novel.  The plot for my second novel I had crafted before I sat down to write Ruby’s Tuesday – so the basis of the plot is there. It has a beginning, middle and an end already - so now it is about sitting at the desk and the putting in those long hours to get words on the page and to get the story told well.

5.       The story of Ruby’s Tuesday is based in the Irish Republic and focuses on the need to travel abroad for certain medical procedures.   Can you tell our non-Irish readers a little about this?
In the Republic of Ireland termination for medical reasons is not allowed. This means if you are carrying a child with a fatal fetal abnormality you have to carry the unborn baby to full term.  Knowing that your unborn child is incompatible with life, devastated and heartbroken you must travel outside of Ireland to have a termination. In the Republic of Ireland, you are denied the right to choose to have a termination for medical reasons.  I think that women should have the right to choose whatever their choice is – choosing to have a termination for medical reasons or choosing to carry the child if possible to full term.

6.       Did you find the finished book as you had originally pictured it or were there changes made that altered your initial vision?
The finished version of Ruby’s Tuesday was probably eighty percent what I had first written. Thanks to the great efforts of my amazing editor Gaye Shortland the final version was a much more well rounded and better told story. The structure remained pretty much the same.  The scenes around Dublin and the whirlwind tour that Afric takes Ruby on in the novel – were all part of the first draft. The ending did not change – there was no great miracle – no fairy tale where Ruby’ survives!

7.       Do enjoy talking about Ruby’s Tuesday to the media, book clubs etc or is it bitter-sweet?
I am not sure that I would go as far as saying that I enjoy talking about it. Some days I find it hard going, there are times when I have to fight back the tears, try to hold it all together.  The media have been very respectfully even supportive so that has made it easier. People have been very sensitive and compassionate. I think Ruby’s Tuesday is an important novel, while it is not written to be a self help guide or to be the A-Z directory on fatal fetal abnormalities, it does tell the story of early child loss and all the heartache, disappointment and loss that goes it. There are also some very humorous scenes in it – so those passages I enjoying talking about a bit more.

8.       How did your family react to the final draft of the book?
Gary and I are blessed to come from very liberal, open minded families. Our families, like our friends and work colleagues have been a huge support for us both and have greatly encouraged my writing career. Our families are proud – very proud in fact that I had the courage to write so open and frankly about something like early child loss

9.       Have you heard from others who have been through a similar situation to Afric? Could they identify with the book?
Yes, I have heard from a lot of women you had been faced with the same shocking reality as Gary and I were.  Some of the women had chosen to carry the child for as long as they possibly could, other has chosen to go to the UK to have a termination for medical reasons. What I found rather shocking were the amount of women that contacted me who had for lots of different reason told their family and friends that they had had miscarriage while on a weekend away in Liverpool.  It would seem that still in some cases in Ireland termination for medical reasons in the Ireland is still considered a taboo subject.

10.   Can you tell us anything about your next novel yet?
Yes, that I have just started it. Part of the novel with be set in Dublin and some of it will be set in the outback in  Western Australia, to date I have tended to write what I know about. It will be a similar genre – maybe even more uplifting than Ruby’s Tuesday.  Very often what you set out to write – does not resemble in any way the finished product – so I am careful not to give you too many detail as during the writing process it may all change with a dash of inspiration. !

I came across this novel via The Irish Times online.  The synopsis had me hooked and after browsing the author's website and watching a TV3 interview with her, I went straight out and bought the book within an hour.  Most unlike me, as I have a massive To-Be-Read pile!

Afric Lynch is devastated to learn, during her routine ultrasound, that her unborn baby has major complications and is "incompatible with life".  Her husband is away on business and she must digest the awful news alone, afraid and heartbroken.  As the laws in Ireland forbid terminations, she is forced to travel to Liverpool to enable her to deliver her child at 24 weeks.  Choosing to do this alone, the trauma of such a trip is intense and the reader is along for the journey.  Afric talks to her baby all through the novel and her fears and sorrows are narrated with tinges of sadness and uncertainty.  The topical decision to travel to the UK for the early birth is one that has been discussed plenty in the media recently as the country tried to imagine how difficult it must be for a woman to carry a baby to full term, knowing the devastation ahead.  Try to imagine the idea of people, unaware of your unborn's illness, asking you are you ready for the birth, are you excited, how many more weeks left and other well-meaning nuggets of endearment being uttered at random moments.  Try to see your reaction to these moments.  Could you cope with the questions afterwards?  What did you have? When did you have it? Where is the baby now?  Now try to visualise that moment when you realise your baby cannot live outside the womb and all your hopes and dreams for this little person are now shattered.....
" I sat there, upright on the examination table, like a lost little girl.  It was like someone had flicked a switch on my life and my world turned from colour, to a dull black-and-white."

The trip to the clinic in Liverpool is written with so much emotion.  The atmosphere is described as calm and welcoming with the staff, who are more than used to their share of tragedy,  helping Afric come to terms with her immense loss.  After the birth, baby Ruby is brought to her mother so they can spend some time together before being separated forever.
" My fingers touched the side of her cheek.  Her skin was soft and perfectly tender, like a normal baby's skin"
Gillian Binchy has written these details so well, that I almost felt like I was intruding on Afric's privacy at the most heartbreaking moments of her life.  I could feel her pain and anguish as she kisses her daughter goodbye.  These chapters were the most painful to read.  I cannot, for the life of me, picture myself going through that experience without having my husband beside me, to allow him the chance to say goodbye too, and while Afric was trying to protect her husband from the inevitable pain,  I just couldn't identify with her decision to do this alone.

This is a work of fiction, based on the author's experiences and is a tug-at-your-heart read, well written, raw and intense at times but with some balancing humour injected at times.  I read it in a two hour period and am glad that I ran out to buy a copy as quickly as I did. I'm just raging that I didn't know about the book sooner as I would have liked to have met the author at its launch last month.  I hope the subject matter brings some serious talks into government meetings and that the process of having to travel for such traumatic procedures will become something of the past.  

Highly Recommended .................

Ruby's Tuesday is published by Ward River Press and is available in paperback or ebook format 

See the TV3 interview with Gillian Binchy on her blog http://gillianbinchy.net/
You can follow the author on Twitter @GillianBinchy1


  1. Asking me my favourite Irish author is cruel... I love so many. Roisin Meaney, Michelle Jackson, Zoe Miller... need I go on!

  2. Lol, a very cruel question indeed ;)

  3. Ouch.....how could you???? mumble mumble mumble.......hope you heard all their names correctly!!!
    Ok....1st love was Sheila O'Flanaghan

    1. Mine was Maeve Binchy "Light a penny candle" many, many moons ago. !!!

  4. Maeve Binchey will always be my favorite.

  5. Can't beat a bit of Meave Binchy


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