I’ve earned a bit of a reputation. Fan’s of my books say that in addition to making them laugh, I quite often make them cry too. One book reviewer nicknamed me The Queen of Emotional Writing. But we all know that it takes both rain and sunshine to make a beautiful rainbow, right? Because for most of us, life isn’t perfect. It’s full of complications, unexpected twists, with moments that threaten to tear us apart. But, I truly believe that it’s only when faced with those moments, that you learn who you are, how strong you are and ultimately, come out the other side, changed and a better person.
My recently published novel, The Woman at 72 Derry Lane has without doubt, some raw, visceral and heartbreaking moments. Themes explored include agoraphobia and domestic violence. In fact, at my book launch, my publisher gifted everyone their own personalised book tissues. We’re good like that!
Here’s the thing, I love a good cry. And studies have proven that a soberest reduces stress and improves your mood. So … you’re welcome!
My love of emotional reads started when I was a child. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read. I can trace my love affair with books back to my some of my earliest memories. Picture books filled with nonsensical, inspired words written by Dr Seuss.
After Seuss came Charlie Bucket, courtesy of my first teacher, Mrs Joyce. Story time in school was magical and I was enraptured by her soft voice as she shared the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My stomach grumbled in protest, sympathetic with the Bucket families meagre dinners. And I held my breath and licked my lips as Charlie’s cold fingers opened the scrumptious Wonka bar. I prayed for a miracle, he deserved that golden ticket. And when he got it, I whooped as loudly as Grandpa did.
I adored Enid Blyton and The Faraway Tree series too. Every night I devoured book after book, rereading them until they became battered, thumb worn, dear friends. When Jo, Bessie and Fanny moved to the countryside, our family left London to move back home to middle-of-nowhere-out-in-the-sticks-no-place-like-home-Wexford! We were in it together but despite a lot of time spent climbing trees I never did find a magical land.
As I got older, the themes in the books I read became more complex. With great prose and plot, my heart would become entwined with the heroes plight. While I often laughed out loud at some comic incident, cleverly written by the author, I often became overcome by emotion at moments of huge significance in their lives. Watership Down, Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Web and The Velveteen Rabbit are just of the early reads that had me reaching for the tissues.
So many books have deeply affected me, but the first book to render me an emotional mess, was To Kill A Mockingbird. In truth it still does, each time I revisit it. You see, I could identify with Scout and Jem Finch, which might seem strange, as they were growing up in Alabama USA in the depression. A long way from rural Wexford of the 1980’s.
Maybe not so much though.
Because we had a lot in common. We didn’t have much money at home either, Ireland was stuck in a nasty recession.
When the story got dark, I trembled, as new emotions assaulted me. This book was the first time I was exposed to a world that could be prejudiced, cruel, dangerous and violent. It’s not that Harper Lee taught me that it’s wrong to treat people badly because of the colour of their skin – I knew that already, instinctively. The lesson for me was that it made me think about knowing something was wrong and then doing something about it.
Through Harper Lee’s words I saw a world where people are not afraid to stand up and be counted. Who are courageous, compassionate and brave and true to themselves and their fellow people.
I suppose, To Kill A Mockingbird was the first novel that taught me about right and wrong. It changed my perspective. It made me want to do kind things, to champion the underdog, to avoid following the ugly mean crowd. I can’t always be a Scout or Atticus. But there are days when I can make a small difference.
So here’s to emotional reads that make us feel, think and ultimately surprise and inspire us. I’ll leave a Robert Frost quote with you that I love, and can promise you, is true:
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”
(c) Carmel Harrington
About The Woman at 72 Derry Lane:
On a leafy suburban street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all. Next door, at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.
But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making.
Has help been next door without them realising it?
With the warmth and wit of Maeve Binchy and the secrets and twists of Liane Moriarty, this is the utterly original and compelling new novel from Sunday Times bestseller Carmel Harrington.
Praise for The Woman at 72 Derry Lane:
‘A complete page-turner and an emotional rollercoaster. Tissues will be required’ Sinead Moriarty
‘A wonderfully life-affirming book…Carmel Harrington writes with such honesty’ New York Times bestselling author, Hazel Gaynor
‘I both cried and laughed…one of the best books I have ever read’ Woman’s Way
‘Both heart-wrenching and uplifting. The perfect summer read’ Irish Times bestseller Fionnuala Kearney
Order your copy online here.