It’s week 2 of Nonfiction November and this is one of my favourite prompts of the month – Book Pairings!
This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. it can be a ‘If you loved tis book, read this!’ or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.
My book pairings today have a decidedly Irish feel!
“Are you a witch, or are you a fairy, or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”Irish children’s rhyme
Angela Bourke’s The Burning of Bridget Cleary is a stunning telling of the death of Bridget Cleary in 1865, killed by her husband who believed her to be a witch. Carlo Gebler has dramatised the tale of Bridget in his striking novel The Cure.
‘I made this all up. Apart from the bits you just couldn’t.’Glenn Patterson
The story of John Delorean, and futuristic car he designed which was manufactured in Northern Ireland, and his subsequent downfall, is the focus of Nick Sutton’s unbelievable book. Glenn Patterson has created a fictional account in Gull exploring the myth around Delorean in terms of its impact on the people of Northern Ireland who built it.
‘That famous/ Northern reticence, the tight gag of the place…
Where to be saved you must only save face
And whatever you say, you say nothing’Seamus Heaney, Whatever you say, say nothing, 1975
Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing has been one of the biggest nonfiction books of the last few years. It explores different strands of The Troubles, including the ‘disappearance’ of Jean McConville. Mary O’Donnell’s novel Where They Lie explores the ramifications of the disappearance of twin brothers on a Protestant family.
“It’s all like a dream, so it is,” she said very softly. “All like a terrible dream”One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden
Lost Lives is one of the most important books published in Ireland in recent times, cataloguing as it does the lives of everyone who died as a result of The Troubles, and laying bare the sheer waste of human life. The book details the lives that lay behind the brief headlines. In Deirdre Madden’s stunning novel, One By One in the Darkness, the effect of one random death is explored from the point of view of three sisters emphasising the personal and the societal trauma left behind by The Troubles.
‘Where does everyone go?’Nothing on Earth
Fintan O’Toole is one of the leading journalistic voices writing about Brexit today. He has also created an astute body of work on the Celtic Tiger and the effect it as had on Irish society, as explored in his book Ship of Fools. Conor O’Callaghan’s beautiful, nightmarish novel Nothing on Earth uses the landscape of a post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, with its empty housing estates, as a setting for a novel where nothing and no one is as they seem.
‘Seldom now were the old long meetings when… idea leads on idea till presently the secret chambers of the soul are made manifest.’Bram Stoker on Henry Irving, 1898
Bram Stoker is now best known as the author of vampire classic Dracula, but he found little fame as a writer during his lifetime. He worked for most of his life for actor and theatre impresario Henry Irving and Stoker wrote his biography in 1906. Joseph O’Connor’s gorgeous historical drama Shadowplay dramatises the relationship between Stoker, Irving and actress Ellen Terry.
Do any of these pairings appeal? I’d love to hear what you think if you have read any of these titles.
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!