Review published on December 9, 2016.
Cecelia Ahern is one of my all-time favourite authors; in fact, I have her largely to thank (or to blame, depending on how you look at it) for my reading habit. Her debut, PS I Love You, filled a void in my reading life and I’ve never looked back. That’s not to say I’ve loved every one of her novels. I was not particularly enamoured of The Year I Met You, but last year’s follow-up, The Marble Collector, saw Ahern return to top form, albeit heading in a slightly different direction than before.
Her latest novel, Lyrebird, intrigued me from the get-go, with its fascinating conceit of a young woman who can mimic sounds, and it proved to be a stunningly original book. It is Ahern’s most eclectic and possibly ambitious novel to date and its central premise is unlike anything I’ve read before. Indeed, the idea of the lyrebird is utterly imaginative and shows Ahern’s creative and storytelling prowess, particularly as she manages to pull the story off so convincingly while injecting it with such magic. She weaves this magical element with a more traditional love story and a very astute portrait of the talent show industry.
The novel’s main protagonist Laura – the lyrebird of the title – is taken out of a very humble and isolated existence and thrust into the limelight and, whilst this journey is a major part of the character’s and story’s development, I preferred getting to know Laura and spending time with her in her ordinary life and felt the talent show aspect, perhaps as is its nature, took over. I also felt at times that given Laura’s sheltered upbringing, there were moments when she came across as too assured and I preferred her delicate, vulnerable side. But the novel’s power and beauty override any minor quibbles and I would recommend this both as a personal and book group read. Indeed, the book asks: ‘If you find something rare and precious should you keep it close or share it with the world?’ For me, the beauty of books is that you can do both, and it’s my turn to share this rare and precious novel with the world (or Nudge readers at least!). It is a special book from a special author.
Jade Craddock 5/5
Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern
HarperCollins 9780007501861 hbk Nov 2016
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