Shall I count the ways in which I love this novel?
- It’s a joy to read, easy and deep and delightful.
- It made me cry.
- I bought it on holiday and I loved it.
- It’s snort-out-loud funny.
- It’s utterly fascinating if you’re not 28 and not from Ireland, like discovering a world of linguistic delights.
- It’s chicklit and I don’t care.
- It’s got Gaelic names I don’t know how to pronounce, and words in italics I daren’t even try to type into Google Translate.
- Aisling, the lead character, is an obsessive tabulator, pricer of goods and returner of over-paid bus tickets to get her refunds, like this is normal.
- Aisling is quietly happy in her version of normality, but to the anthropological eye, there’s something just a wee bit tunnel-visioned about her, which is, of course, the whole point of the novel, how she gets out of that tunnel.
- Her friends Majella, Sadhbh, Elaine, Donna and Ruby are an absolute joy.
- The one man she kisses (in the course of the story) is …. cor.
- There are serious life and death matters, and there are drunken girls cackling with laughter in a ditch.
- Aisling gets her cool friends into the coolest Berlin club when they were rejected because she’s wearing her good anorak and this normcore is apparently cool.
- There is a dastardly schemer (though this bit is the weakest of the many plotlines).
- Aisling doesn’t touch her tea that came with the newfangled brunch, because it was green for god’s sake, with not a drop of milk. Reader, I howled with laughter, and I don’t even drink tea.
- Aisling is devoted to shumpers, those jumpers that come with a useful shirt collar and cuffs attached. But so is the girl she thinks her ex is seeing.
- She loves driving, and a road trip makes her feel better under the worst of circumstances.
- She’s rude about Dublin’s Temple Bar. She’s definitely got good sense.
- Yes, it IS a bit like Bridget Jones’ Diary, or Sofia Khan is NOT Obliged, but in the best way: written by journalists who know what’s funny about being a young woman slightly at sea in modern life but determined not to admit it. And the Irish dimension makes it completely different.
The authors are writing the screenplay for the film, and also a sequel to this best-selling Irish novel. More Aislings, please.
Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen (2017, Gill Books), ISBN 978-0-7171-8101-8, €10.00