#IRISH FICTION FORTNIGHT
Two cousins, Ava and Hope, both in their thirties, both leading very different lives.
Ava is a married mother of one and juggles family life with her job as a teacher. Always striving for perfection, she is the queen of the to-do-list and organises everything with extreme care.
Hope, on the other hand, is a freelance journalist, living with her best friend Dylan, who she is secretly in love with. Scatty and not at all in control of her life, she is coasting along day to day.
When their Aunt dies and leaves them a letter in her will, it leads them both to France, where they will discover more about themselves, as well their Aunt Betty.
I have read this author's work before and have always enjoyed her novels, so it was a no-brainer to choose this as part of #IrishFictionFortnight. From Derry, in Northern Ireland, Claire has a lovely way with words and yet pulls no punches with her language. The story of these two cousins was believable, with a great cast of supporting characters. I especially loved Fiona, the fellow mother of one, who has nothing good to say about being a mum and who makes you wonder why some people have children at all. Through a series of letters, the author introduces us the wonderful world of Betty. Growing up in Derry, in the midst of The Troubles, she is swept of her feet and moves to France. Her new life is a far cry from the one she left behind, but she has left a part of her in the walled town. The cousins both have their issues, with Ava struggling to be themother she wants to be and Hope feeling let down by her flatmate and the love of her life. However, I found Hope's repetitive rants and thoughts about Dylan became a little tiresome.
The house in France sounds idyllic and, more than once, I had that fleeting dream of packing up my family and moving there. Then I remembered, this is the real world, not a novel, and it's never going to happen! Nonetheless, the descriptions of Betty's home, and the surrounding areas, were divine. I felt like I was with the girls as they crept into the attic to find out more about their Aunt.
This is women's fiction so, of course, there is a love interest. Predictable as it was, it lightened the mood of the book and added the romantic element to the sun drenched chapters. For those who have not read Claire's work, be ready for some Northern Ireland turn of phrase, like 'wee' instead of 'small', which always bring a smile to my face as I read them. Try saying them out loud for added entertainment, my kids loved when I tried my best Derry accent (which is not good). I have already rooted out my next Claire Allan book, as she is a perfect blanket to wrap yourself in, on these cold January evenings...
If Only You Knew is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format.
I am offering a paperback copy of this title as a giveaway. Just enter via rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Open INT.