As all reviews do, let me give you a quick summary to Lyrebird (without any spoilers). Documentary crew Soloman, Bo and Sarah discover their new film subject, Laura, a young woman who lives in isolation, with the ability to voice any sound she hears. Laura is taken out of her own quiet little world in the deep forests of Cork and is exposed to the modern sounds of Dublin. She is given the nickname Lyrebird (a real life Australian bird of the same ability) when she is entered into the popular Irish variety talent show ‘StarQuest.’ She becomes an overnight sensation and experiences the highs and lows of what seems to be her new life, all while dealing with her love triangle feelings with Soloman and the risk of her complicated past being exposed in the world’s media circus.
Lyrebird has received multiple reviews, most praising Ahern’s ‘natural’ ability for writing and storytelling and her ideas:
“It’s an intricately plotted novel and some of it is extremely moving” The Sydney Morning Herald
“Lyrebird is an absolute joy to read, especially because Ahern does a near perfect job of keeping the pace and holding the reader’s interest along the way, Star2.com
“This is in many ways a typical love story, but in other ways, entirely the opposite. The concept is clever, the characters are vivid and relatable, and with so many twists and secrets waiting to be revealed, you’ll race through to the end.” The Irish News
“Ahern’s writing has a greater maturity and depth these days…Thought to provoke, lyrical and really rather lovely.” Glamour
“Ahern has gone on to become somewhat of a household name in the contemporary romance genre…Through her creativity, poetic and fluid writing style and the perfect blend of authenticity and fantasy in fixed in her characters.” Vogue Book Clube (Australia)
Altogether, Lyrebird received has received an overall positive reception, as one may expect if they have seen Ahern’s career since the beginning or at least over the past few years. As a reader of Ahern’s earlier work, I can identify with what critics such as Kerry Potter, from Glamour, has expressed in her praising of Ahern’s work. I have read P.S. I Love You, and still think now that it is one of the most romantic modern novels I have read. Ahern wrote it at the age of 21, which for a writer may be considered ‘a tender age’ as most writers tend to be older, have more life experiences and spend years on their first novel before it is published. Such as famous writer, J.K. Rowling, she was 30 when her first novel Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, was published in 1995. For Ahern, her first novel was a source of releasing her anxieties. In an interview with the Daily Mail and on the British morning show Lorraine, Ahern has expressed how writing leads to a sense of ease for her.
“I was 21 when I started spending all night writing fiction. I’d just left university and was undergoing a transition in my life. I may have had the world at my feet, but I felt constantly anxious and became introspective. I was deeply unsettling- a physical sensation, like a state of constant heightened vigilance. A form of fear. I realized the only thing that eased the fear was writing- and that was my light bulb moment.”
When I remember reading P.S. I Love You, I can recollect all of the emotion in which Ahern will have put into her writing. Now reading Lyrebird, and having this new information on Ahern, I can see a reflective sense of ‘witness literature.’ The novel’s main character Laura, experienced multiple forms anxieties, from leaving her home, losing family, experiencing a new way of life and being ‘thrown’ into the public eye on a reality television show. As Ahern has matured she has taken her past experiences and has combined them with the ideas for her characters, allowing her to create detailed and an understanding of the characters thoughts. As a popular fiction novel, the narrative goes from the thoughts of one character to another in the different settings. However, Ahern executes these transfers smoothly and with ease. One can gain a clear view of the character and their surroundings from the first person narrative. As critics have said one can really image the open countryside of Cork and the confined space of the backstage of StarQuest. As one goes through the chapter and gets deeper into the book, one also gets deeper in the mind and secrets of Laura and her past. When first talking
As one goes through the chapter and gets deeper into the book, one also gets deeper in the mind and secrets of Laura and her past. When first talking about her family Laura is very dismissive, but then as the novel goes on Laura’s uncomforted on talking about her family heightens, and Ahern brings into detail the feeling of anxiety. “My chest seems to be growing tighter and tighter.” Then near the conclusion of the story, Laura reveals all and seems to feel relief in her decision to talk about her families past. Very much similar to how Ahern describes that writing stories gave her relief. With an author that can relate to their characters one can become gripped on every word. As I did, knowing why the characters felt as they did and seeing the story unfold from different perspectives. One can experience different opinions, the different levels of power and control the characters had and lost over the course of the narrative. It is relatable to how one can feel at different times and in different situations.
One of my favorite parts of the novel was the emphasis on Laura’s ability and how similar to the lyrebird she was. Her ability to repeat the sounds she hears would be a unique skill to hold, many of us try but only to limited success. Having this type of element in the novel makes Laura seem ethereal, she has the beauty of the bird both in visual and verbal circumstances. The novel is split into four different parts and on each opening page of the different parts, includes quotes from Ambrose Pratt’s The Lore of the Lyrebird. These different quotes bring a poetic symbolism to the novel, the way the actual lyrebird is described brings one a perspective of what is about to happen to Laura and how one will feel sympathy for her. This poetic element and the first person narrative brings the emotion to the novel in which Ahern has been praised for.
if you would like to read the reviews on Lyrebird in more detail here are the links: http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/lyrebird-review-cecelia-ahern-s-sophisticated-new-story-is-rooted-in-romance-1.2838546
Next Week: Themes