Goodbye?

Well, this is the end of my research into Cecelia Ahern and her novel Lyrebird. I have learned a vast amount about not only the novel but also the appreciation for writers such as Cecelia Ahern and how far creative lengths in literature can go. I have also seen a step into the future for the gray area of popular and literary fiction, although there is the loyalist to literary fiction which may think popular fiction can not live up to the standard of literary fiction. Popular fiction is gaining a new found respect of its own and it is authors such as Ahern in which see popular fiction take a step further up the literary ladder. The question of what is literature still remains unanswered, but that is not negative it is ongoing of unlimited possibilities for those in search of an answer.

Although I may have reached a conclusion on Lyrebird, for now, one never knows that this novel may offer more in the future. However, for now, this is it, thank you very much for reading my blog and appreciating Cecelia Ahern along with me.

What is Literature?

Back to the question I started this blog with, ‘what is literature?’ Even after my own close analysis of my chosen novel, I cannot put a single answer to this question. Due to the endless aspects as to what actually makes literature. Literary techniques, the process of writing and publication, interpretation of narratives, themes and characters, subject matters, genres and what seems to be an endless list of other building blocks. Even as I approach the end of my studies of English Literature, I cannot pinpoint an answer. Before I saw literature as novels made up of the aspects I have just listed, but as it seems like popular and literary fiction there is a gray area, a blurred vision as to what literature is. It is not as simple as a science, in which a scientist finds evidence and draws up a single conclusion. In English there multiple conclusions, students are told to revise a novel and argue their views on certain topics, two students could choose the same topic yet draw two contrasting verdicts.  Literature is open to the masses, as with the different genres available there is a commodity to suit everyone.

“The question ‘what is literature?’ is not, like ‘What is hematite?’ asked out of ignorance. It is a question of interest only to those who already have a sense of the extension of the concept and who want, for whatever reason, to think about the defining or differential qualities of the phenomena to which, as they know perfectly well, the term is generally applied.” -Jonathan Culler 2007

Literature is a science all of its own, there are many prospects and applied theories. One definite in the study of literature is one must have an open mind, a willingness to explore contrasting pieces of literature and perceiving the different opinions and theories. There is a range as to what one can analyse and literally a world of different types of literature for one to study. It is not just English Literature, every country has their own production of literature, for example, another course of literature may be called American Literature or American Studies. Furthermore, literature is more than a form of study and its own individual science it is also an industry.

The publishing industry is a multi-million business in the UK alone, worldwide it could be indescribable. Although the market for books is said to be in trouble to the digital market, it is primary purposes for books which prevent this from happening, such as non-fiction books are usually sold as hard or paperback copies. There is also those who defy the combination of the publishing and digital markets, there are those who would rather hold a hard copy of a book than a small compatible device such as a Kindle. Arguing that it takes away from the creativity and experience which comes along with the selling of the book, one does not get the full detail of a specially designed cover or the sense of achievement of physically seeing how far along the book one has read. Although the digital market combining with the publishing market has allowed for more to freely publish their work, creating a new form of literature known as iLiterature.

In the original publishing industry, there are four phases from the writing of the book to it being placed in the hand of the curious reader. Authorial Phase, one comes up with an idea, creates a plot-line and then a narrative. Production Phase, the author gains an agent who corrects the original draft and sends a refined one off to publishers. Who if become interested buy the rights to the book, design a cover and produce the copies. Marketing Phase, the publishers marketing department find companies (particularly companies of known bookstores) to sell the book and come up with advertisements suitable for the chosen target audience. For example, video adverts for the younger generation and newspaper promotions for older readers. Critics are given advanced copies to give their opinions and convince audiences of that critic to gain an interest in the novel ready for the next phase. Impact Phase, the books are placed into the hands of buyers who read the book and if the enjoy it they may use word of mouth or social media to express their enjoyment or disappointment in the novel leading to friends, family, and followers gaining an interest to buy or opinion to not show interest in the book. The more positive the reception the higher the sales in the book and successful establishment of the author. leading to further purchases of their works. A process of which Cecelia Ahern has taken herself, she was successful in gaining an agent, finding a publisher and marketing her debut novel to gain a dedicated novel who still purchase her works more than fifteen novels later.

As for the digital publishing industry, this has allowed an opened door for self-publishing. Companies such as Amazon, have set up sites in which anyone can have their work published and made available for purchase. Despite this amazing and almost too easy opportunity. one would have to self-market and conduct a fan base to see a sale of their book. As well as using the digital market to publish their book they will also use the digital world of social media as a form of marketing, setting up special accounts and fan pages. Finding the right followers and hiring specialists to help them, such as well-known critics on social media instead of a paper or magazine. Doors have been opened for aspiring authors, yet it does not guarantee success. Although the digital publishing market has made publishing available to the masses, it is still fairly recent and will take the time to rise to the success of the original publishing company.

This is just a peek into the world of literature and its industry, there are many underlining layers which one is unaware of. Literature is an open question that will take a significant amount of research and evidence to reach a singular answer, that is if it is possible. For now, I think one should relish in the boundless opportunities literature has for itself and those who wish to study or specialise in the literature and publishing industry.

If you, yourself are sitting on a story and want to take the first step in self-publishing: Amazon Self Publishing

Ahern and Popular Fiction

Ahern is one of the best-selling popular fiction authors in today’s society, each of her publications touch the hearts of readers all over the world. Bringing appreciation from her faithful fans and gaining a rising number of new fans with the publication of each new novel. This could be due to the development in the maturity of her writing. If one reads reviews on Aherns works (reviews on Lyrebird) they can admire the support and appreciation for her work, however, this was not always the case. After the publication of her first novel, Ahern faced some harsh critics, specifically from the Irish papers due to her father and his high position in Irish politics. In an interview with The Guardian, Ahern although only aged 22 stays dignified and supports her father’s position and her writing style. Critics stated that her novel P.S. I Love You was filled with the cliches of the chick-lit genre. Yet Ahern stated, “I’d never even heard of chick lit!” (read full interview here) and the novel saw international success, and film rights were gained for a 2007 film adaptation of the same name. For one who is a true supporter of Ahern’s work can see how her work and writing style has improved and particularly matured since her debut novel.

When one looks at the writing style of P.S. I Love You and Aherns new works such as The Year I Met You and Lyrebird, they witness the deeper thoughts of the characters and greater detailed view points of the characters. One can understand their anxieties, fears and reasons for any unease they feel, some today would still consider Aherns work ‘chick-lit’ due to the the multiple novels narratives, some may consider it a uniqueness to the romance genre. Ahern has been dubbed the ‘Queen of popular romance fiction’ be that as it may it does not necassarily mean that her work is ‘chick-lit’. I strongly disagree with this, as a self-confessed admirer of romance, fantasy and adventure novels, I just do not see the connection of Aherns work to a neologism (a newly coined word or expression) of chick-lit. It seems offensive to Aherns writing style, I immediatly think of chick-flicks, a film genre of popular teenage films such as Mean Girls and Bride Wars, film which show narrow-minded fights between best friends and ill-suited couples. The are entertaining, but are not similar to Aherns novels, the films provide quick laughs and these novels give one a story in which they can idealise a beautiful romance or almost modern day Romeo and Juliet complicated love story.

“I’d never even heard of chick lit”

Ahern is a popular fiction author, this is made clear through her style of writing, the awards she has won and how her style is described in newspaper articles and critics. She does not step into the literary fiction of classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice, be that as is may there is not a brick wall that clearer defies what is popular fiction and what is literary fiction. There is a blurred line between the two styles. It has its clear dividers and similarities which put the significance differences between the two genres into question. Popular fiction is seen as a pass time and literary fiction is the serious texts which make you think.

Defined Differences

Plot: Novels of popular fiction, such as Aherns contain a plot of multiple events, the novels tend to have more chapters that of a literary fiction novel. It is a mountain of exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and then resolution. Were as for literary fiction there is less to the plot, the structure of the story is still the same as that of a popular fiction novel, the single and primary plot of the story with a greater focus on details.

Character: In popular fiction, there are multiple characters in which one reads the view point of. As the story goes along the interpretation of a new character of events is expressed, allowing one to see the story from different angles. As for literary fiction, it is the viewpoint of the main character one experiences the story from, whether it be in a first or third person narrative it is that singular character who is the drive of the narrative.

Setting: The settings of popular fiction are “familiar or exotic” they are scenes one can identify or that in which one visually fantasize about in their day dreams. As for literary fiction, the locations are based on the theoretical features of the character, it is what is familiar to the character giving one an insight into the life of others and their culture.

Language: The language of popular fiction, is the language of the reader. What one reads is their or similar to their dialect, the use of slang one would recognise in everyday spoken language. Anyhow for literary fiction authors write and express with great care, using literary techniques that create clear verbal images for one to visualise the story.

Dialogue: This is much more simple, popular fiction is built upon dialogue and literary fiction expressed through detail. In popular fiction characters express their thoughts and feeling through the spoken word, were as for literary fiction it is the characters thoughts which one relies on for the story telling.

Blurred Line

Theme: Every novel has a theme or multiple themes in which is explored through the novels different fiction styles. Issues are covered, some may be more modern in popular fiction and more political in literary. One way or the other both exploration of themes are based on society and the portrayed culture, bringing one to various thoughts and opinions covered within the pages of the book.

This is an open debate, one is entitled to say which they prefer and point out the pros and cons to the opposing style of fiction. One the other hand one could embrace both styles and possibly even see the combination of the two, a method I believe Ahern has attempted and to ones own opinion is a success or a step in an unnatural territory.  As Sara Keating said, ““Lyrebird will do nothing to convince literary snobs that popular fiction is worth greater attention, but it does showcase the genre at its best.” I have read and admired the work of both popular fiction and literary fiction and I can see techniques used in both styles within Lyrebird, this can be credited to Aherns maturing writing style. She is bringing more formality to her style of writing.

A primary example is the use of language and dialogue, Ahern does provide a substantial amount of dialogue within the pages of the novel, yet there is an overpowering inside look of the characters deep thoughts and feelings. For example, Solomons and Lauras desires for each other, their feelings are not expressed with words, but within the details of their thoughts and described body language. From their sweaty palms to their inability to breathe normally, one can visualise their thoughts and actions through the detailed verbal images Ahern has provided one to see.

Of course, there is also popular and literary fictions agreed attention to theme. Ahern explores themes that relate to the modern set society and culture within the novel. There is a focus on popular fiction, which may not sound similar to the issues in which literary fiction would explore. There is also the exploring of deep issues such as family, nature, wisdom and details of the characters and elements of societies culture. The narrative follows Laura trying to fit into society and connects to its represented culture.

Bringing into question can popular and literary fiction can ever come to an agreed accord? It is an open question such to that of what is literature? A firm answer may not be found, yet supporting arguments can be continued to be made.

Here are some links for more detail on the differences between popular and literary fiction:

http://mandywallace.com/literary-vs-popular-fiction/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/literary-novels-_n_3790198.html

https://writerlyderv.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/literary-fiction-vs-popular-fiction/

https://www.thehippocollective.com/2015/03/29/literary-fiction-vs-popular-fiction/

Lyrebird and Irish Culture

When one thinks of Ireland a few iconic elements come to minds, the strong, distinct accent, the landscapes, leprechauns, pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, river dance, Guinness beer and the famous art and music. Many of these renowned parts of Irish culture are noted in pieces of Ahern’s work, as proud Irish citizen she bases the majority of her novels in Ireland, particularly in the southern and central Republic of Ireland countryside.  The noteworthy including her debut bestseller P.S. I Love You, If You Could See Me Now, Where Rainbows End, A Place Called Here and now Lyrebird. The other locations of her novels are either ambiguous or infamous cities such as New York City, however, the main city of choice is Dublin.

As her father was a former Irish Prime Minister and her brother-in-law is part of the famous Irish boyband Westlife, Ahern has stepped up to the mark and become an icon of Ireland herself. Having sold and translated books in over 50 different countries including Germany and Poland. A popular form of Irish culture in Aherns is the settings she chooses, even when characters aim to travel or move to new cities such as Boston they always come back to Ireland in the end. It seems Ahern represent her love for her native Ireland as her characters true home as well as her own. In Lyrebird, even though Laura never leaves Ireland itself she returns to the home in Cork she has known for ten years and connects with her uncle Joe who anonymously paid for her to get a passport after hearing she needed one on the radio.

It altogether seems that Ahern wishes for her worldwide audience to understand the beauty of Ireland outside of Dublin. Giving the sense of community in secondary characters daily lives, such as the twin farmers having a local woman bring them their supplies such as food, toiletries, and medicine. Also hiring a younger laborer to help them as the age. Bringing a genuine and positive outlook to her home country.

Themes- Part 3

Some would say the more the merrier, therefore here are some more themes to consider and discuss.

Nature as Beauty

Ireland is complemented on its beautiful landscapes, they have top tourist destinations including woodlands, forests, cliffs and coasts. The Huffington Post lists 10 of the Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Ireland many of Aherns’ novels are primarily set in the Irish countryside or small villages. The association with Ireland is green, the green fields, trees and three and four leaf clovers (that is after the distinct accent, St. Patrick’s Day, River Dance and Leprechauns) it is the beautiful settings of the surroundings that allow for Ahern’s romance and mysteries to take place. Furthermore, in creating a suitable surrounding to assist in the appropriate mood, Ahern compliments the living nature, but not necessarily the animals.  But that of Laura, in the novel’s prologue Ahern describes Solomon’s viewpoint of his first encounter with Laura. “She’s like a mythical creature, he can barely see where the tree begins and she ends. The leaves that act as their ceiling flutter in the breeze, causing rippling light effects on her face.” Representing the reviews of Lyrebird, one can see the praised lyrical adjectives, verbs and adverbs, one can imagine the beauty a human may experience from such a sight.

Most importantly, the connotation between nature and beauty is the comparison of Laura’s ability to that of the actual animal the Lyrebird. Although its country of origin is Australia, its natural habitat is the forest, as is the home Laura belongs to and has built up her ability. Moreover, throughout the novel which has been split into four parts, each is distinguished by a quote from Ambrose Pratt’s The Lore of the Lyrebird, describing the beauty and ability of the lyrebird. Giving one a clue as to the direction of the narrative and the actions that will be carried out by the human portrayed bird.

Find out how Cecelia Ahern found inspiration for her novel in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHbgLUGT5Ww

Wisdom of Experience

One learns from the triumphs and mistakes of themselves and others, however, there also those who refuse to learn from the mistakes. It may be due to denial that if was due to a fault of their own or denial that is actually happened and leaves a lasting effect. The truth is even the smallest actions can have an eternal aftermath, such as allowing others to speak for us. An action in which Laura would soon make and then fix. In the semi-final she allows the show’s producers to create a video of her backstory, through an interview they told her what to say and then edited it further to gain sympathy from the audience for votes. Portraying her as having a difficult upbringing, living isolation and not having a ‘real’ family after the passing of her mother and grandmother. After the events of a night out the media take the edited story and accuse her mother and grandmother of murder, changing the opinion of Laura, she was now seen as a fake, covering up a scandal. She overcame this by agreeing to an interview with Bo and her independent documentary to tell the full and true story of her grandfather’s rough nature. She has taken the experiences of the edited story and her mother and grandmother keeping secrets, to telling her side of the story and bringing one an understanding of her side of the story. It is overcoming the fear and using the power of free speech that allows one to reflect on their experiences and create a lesson not only for themselves but for others as well as their inspiration.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” Eleanor Roosevelt 

Youth and Beauty

Being young and beautiful is considered a desire in society, everybody wants to stay looking young and considered beautiful by others, especially by their peers. The fashion and beauty industry earns millions (if not billions) of pounds every year from everyone’s desire to be beautiful. This influence of desire comes from the heavy influence of the media, the faces on magazine covers, clothing websites, make-up and perfume advertisements are those of young models. Ones which have been ‘discovered’ by agencies who are filled with the professionals and judges of who is beautiful and recognize what makes them beautiful. It may be considered hurtful to some, but it is true we are judged by how we look, from our choice of clothes to our facial features and hair colour. A process which Laura is put through, she is taken from her own individual style and is given a new look which audiences would consider desirable, all in order to create a positive first impression. One will not know what may have happened if Laura could have gone stage as herself, would she have been judged for the way she alone dresses? The fame industry is one based on looks, magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour have worst and best dress lists in the majority of their publications. FHM has their yearly 100 Sexiest Men and Women. Celebrities flaws are circled and negatively drawn upon contradicting each other at times, it’s praised to be skinny, but then a few pages over, they are called ‘too skinny’ and brought up the comparison to an eating disorder. The media extenuates pictures of models to make them look thinner, giving the public false images that are impossible for the real person to achieve. There is a strong infatuation on what is considered beautiful and the media drives on that to sell to the public, despite the effects it would have a young person self-esteem.

Learn the 11 Positive And Negative Influences Of Media On Teenagers

Themes- Part 2

Do not worry, you are reading correctly. There are more themes for Lyrebird!!!

Family-Blessing or Curse

Family can be a blessing or a curse for numerous reasons, one may be extremely close to their family or quite distance from them. Or there maybe a reputation or secret of the family hanging over one’s shoulder which affects the family relationships. Ahern gives the narrative two interpretations of family, the family one is related to by blood and the family that can be built on strong bonds. The family relations spectated in the novel is not Laura’s but Solomon’s, one interprets four different chapters of Solomon introducing Laura to his family. Through the viewpoints of these two characters, one interprets the perspective of one caught in the middle and an outsider looking in. Solomon sees his family as any adult might, loving yet embarrassing in front new acquaintances. When he takes Laura to his childhood home for his mother’s birthday, he must sit through them making presumptions that she is his new girlfriend as Bo is not with him and his brother Rory flirting with Laura causing jealousy and tension between the two siblings. Despite all of the events that take place over the weekend, as there seems to be no severe hostility through Laura’s eyes Solomon’s family could be considered a blessing, as they are all together and care for one another and their best interests.

Then we have the family conflicts of Laura, which is a great deal more complicated than Solomons. Starting with her mother and grandmother, they kept her away from the world, even the local community do not know her relation, to her Grandmother who is a popular seamstress in the village and Laura helps her and is frequently seen by customers. Then Laura is introduced to her long lost father at sixteen-years-old, followed by meeting her estranged uncle after ten years of hiding in the old cottage on his land. Along with her family’s secret, Laura’s family could be considered a curse, as, despite the love and caring nature between the family members, it is the past which affects Lauras ability to become close to people. However, this comes with an exception with Laura’s relationship with Solomon and when she moves into the contestant’s house. As they are all in association with the effects of the talent show, they all build a bond and once Laura has hit a profound negativity in the public eye, they all gather around her and help revive her talent which seems one worries has disappeared.

It seems Ahern wants to prove that there is more meaning to family than those one is related to. As she has done in her past novels, P.S. I Love You, for example, Holly is closer to her friends Denise and Sharon than her mother which may be why her late husband arranged for them to travel to Ireland with her instead of her mother.

Growing up- Pain or Pleasure

There are many positives and negatives to growing up, depending on what stage of life one is in. For Laura, Ahern gave her a childhood full of complications and extension of one even in adulthood. As she was cared for by her father providing weekly supplies and having an appointed guardian at all times after her discovery. As she holds the representation of a child, she acquires many lessons of modern society, learning acceptable behaviors, fashion, and expectations. For instance, as she has brought very little items of clothing with her she creates outfits out of Solomon’s wardrobe, “grabbing one of Solomon’s checked shirts, she adds a thin brown leather belt and ties it into a know to fit her teeny waist.” Despite her individual style, Laura is changed by stylists to allow to be seen as attractive and fashionable to the TV show’s audience. Throughout the narrative, Laura is learning more about herself, her abilities and where she fits in society. Is she the entertainment audiences want? The next award-winning subject of Bo’s documentary? Or can she become her own person after leaving her old life behind? Laura’s upbringing would not be considered easy, living in fear of being discovered and taken away from her family. It seems she only had pleasure once she had adapted to living on her own in the forest, as she was free, and was not truly free until she was finished with the was allowed to choose where her life would go next.

Individual Versus Society

Once a person steps into the spotlight, they step into a world of compliments and scrutiny by critics and the public. The world Laura entered defenseless with the influence of Bo. Similar to examples I discussed in the character theme (in Themes- Part 1) popular examples are the reality TV show contestants which catch a negative response by audiences and the media. One is judged by their actions and falls into a stereotype of being ‘caught up in the fame’, as her backstory is revealed to the public she is seen as innocent and intriguing until an unfortunate and puzzling night out brings the negativity. Ahern already had Laura battling a society she was not familiar with and expressed the anxiety that one would feel if they were placed far outside of their comfort zone. A feeling Ahern is all too familiar with, as she expressed in an interview on the British morning television show Lorraine.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6B7XlWkAR0

Isolation

The isolation in the narrative of the novel is not only that of Laura’s physical isolation, it is also the emotional isolation multiple characters experienced and felt throughout what may felt like endless chapters of the story. For Laura after the death of the deer, she leaves Solomon and Bo’s flat, jets off the Australia and moves into the contestant’s house she feels alone. As she becomes detached from Solomon as she interferes with his relationship with Bo, and her feelings for him do not leave her as she leaves. Likewise for Solomon, even when he is surrounded by his family he wants to be close to but as has not yet shown interest and Laura leaves him and Bo. As his relationship with Bo is thinning and his desires Laura he is ‘caught in the middle’ of being loyal to his girlfriend of three years or build on his connection with Laura. Moreover, this affects Bo and her feelings, upon first impressions one sees her as determined and dedicated to her work. Until the feelings of Solomon and Laura are made clear with the long gazes, awkward conversations and expressed a need for each other. It is made clear that the relationship between Solomon and Bo is dissolving and an effect on their professional relationship, as one wishes to pursue the documentary project and the other holds objections to certain topics. Differences in feelings and opinions take their toll on people in different ways, some can benefit from the removal of negativity for others it is negativity leading to isolation. Although Ahern does not go deep into the effects of isolation, she provides a peek of under the iceberg. Laura starts to isolate herself from her fellow contestants, neither speaking or practicing her talent with only hours before the final. There is a ‘price for fame’, a price which has seen breakdowns and forms of depression. Symptoms of this mental illness include isolation and fear, feelings expressed in Ahern’s words and with any illness if it is not recognized or treated soon then the consequences not only take hold of the individual but also those close or once close to the wounded.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Loss of Innocence

Upon entering a new society, Laura can be seen as a blank canvas, a piece which can be remastered by those interested. She is told by others who she must be and portray to the public on screen, how she must dress, how she must present herself. She is like a child, witnessing and part-taking in new experiences. She goes from the ‘girl of the forest’ to an ‘overnight sensation’, almost losing who she is the process. The hostility of the media catching her at her worst moments only adds to the nullifying actions of those who scare her. Such as the women in the toilets during the night out, who take video of Laura being sick after she drinks alcohol which one may believe is for the first time due to the lack of containment of herself. She seems unaware of the influence of alcohol can have on one’s awareness and judgments. Due to her protective and isolating raising, she is unaware of the elements of socialisation causing her trouble and having to learn from the experience.

Themes in Lyrebird Part 1

Themes are found in different types of mediums: literature, film, poetry and even music. Sometimes one does not even realize the theme of the piece until the end, as some themes may not become clear until they have reached a conclusion. When reading a book analytically one can find evidence for many themes, however, this can even be done when reading leisurely. While I was reading Lyrebird, while I was getting caught up in the novels poetic essence it took me reaching the conclusion of each read, when I would halt my reading at chapters that would be easy to pick up from where I left off for my next reading, to really summarise what I had just ‘experienced’.

I could give a list of all the most common themes found in literature and compare them to ones found in poems. However, one would find themselves with two very long and descriptive lists. Therefore I shall keep it to the point and discuss the themes in Lyrebird. There are many themes on the list that I believe can be associated and linked to the novel, even with the smallest evidence that can be supplied alongside it.

Character-building up and destruction

As the main character, it is only evident that Laura would be the one to experience the build up and destruction. In today’s culture, it is an all too common occurrence to witness the talent show contestant or celebrity favorite to experience a build up and downfall in the face of the media. Laura experiences how she suddenly goes from an ‘overnight sensation’ to the ‘party animal’ who has gotten caught up in the fame. Such real-life examples include former X-Factor UK contestant Frankie Cocozza. Cocozza was 18/19 years old at the time of the competition, an age in which it is considered normal to go out and experience the freedom that comes with being a newly considered adult. However, even though it is considered ‘normal’ there is also the view that going out on an all too regular basis can be negative. In a DigitalSpy article, Cocozza is labeled a “drug-using party animal.” Another example is Britain’s Got Talent singer Susan Boyle like her Laura receives a make-over which will make her seem more attractive/idealized. She changes from accessorizing “Solomons plaid shirt with one of Bo’s plaited waist belt,” to wearing “a patterned mini skirt and golden, knee high gladiator sandals.” The talent show stylists will have been hired to create a look that would be considered ‘fashionable’ and would persuade audiences that the talented people care for their looks, as they should do.

The primary example of this theme is the ‘sob story’ in which many talent show contestants present in an intro of their audition slot. The show portrays this as the contestants’ purpose, inspiration or strives to participate in the show. Most stories include the loss of a loved one, overcoming an illness, surviving a negative ordeal such as bullying. Contestants express their stories to the judges which set the tone, for instance, song choice for singing or dancing being related to the contestants’ background will bring an overcome wave of emotion to the judges and audience, in which they may not have felt without knowing the contestants’ backstory. It has become an occurrence and almost a need for a talent show to have this, as to give the show a contestant audience will want to win, to make them feel that if by voting for them they hold responsibility in positively changing their life. However, all the attention can later bring a negative impact. For Laura, she was the girl who left a world of isolation to experience a new and ‘better’ life, to becoming a life in hiding due to the shame of her family. Furthermore, Laura experiences the fifteen minutes of fame

Furthermore, Laura experiences the ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ which to popular culture is a negative stigma. It is associated with those who are considered ‘fame seekers’ people who go on talent shows to become the topic of the tabloids before there is a new story, once the popularity of the show fades away so does the interest of the contestants and even its winners. As she came in second place, Laura may become one of those contestants, even though she was a fan and critic favorite and may experience some time in the spotlight. As it is not always the winner which experiences the greatest success in the aftermath of the show. Referring back to Susan Boyle, who came second in Britain’s Got Talent 2009, she was offered a record deal from Sony Music. After experiencing the pros and cons which come with fame, Ahern allowed Laura to walk away with poise and dignity.

Coming of Age

This is one of the novels minor and debatable themes. One could argue that the characters of the novel are all too old to be considered characters that are coming of age. It would be a thought for Ahern’s young adult genre pieces Flawed or Perfect, in which the characters are seventeen and are on the verge of adulthood. However, one may also consider that Ahern has put an abstract effect on the theme when relating it to Laura and her past. Part of her coming of age could be when she turned sixteen and her Grandmother decided it was time to introduce her to her father and it was more appropriate for her to live on her own after the death of her mother. At sixteen one can legally leave home or foster care without the permission of a parent or carer. In the case of homelessness, you can obtain assistance from social services. Being sixteen is also considered coming-of-age due to it being the average age to leave school and is considered a young adult as one may start to look at opportunities towards their futures, such as higher education or careers. Even though Laura in twenty-six in the novel she experiences social aspects of society for the first time.

(If you need any help or advice you find information on the childline website: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/your-rights/your-rights/ )

Disillusionment and Dreams

The sound of fame and fortune would sound a great lifestyle to many people, however, for Laura, this is not her dream. Throughout the novel, she expresses very little of her thoughts to others, while one bears witness to her inner thoughts and view her vulnerability. She has no real experience of the wider world, after spending the majority of her life in isolation experiencing a different way of life, she must follow those who know or at least she thinks knows what she should experience in her new life. It is Bo who convinces her to take part in the documentary and believes that taking part in the tv talent show is her way to a new life. A common cliche to many contestants of tv talent shows.

Emptiness of Attaining a False Dream

In many contestant interviews, they express how winning the show is their dream or the audition is the ‘biggest’ or ‘most important day of their life.’ If one watches numerous talent show auditions there will be at least one interview which contains the words of all hopeful contestants. As the novel goes along Laura’s thoughts reveal how little she wants the dream and Bo eventually follows. As the television company takes away the rights for the filming of the documentary, Bo realizes it was a mistake that instead of taking Laura and helping her ‘rise from the ashes’ she should have interviewed her sooner, gaining her back story and the truth before the media stirred it up. In her interview, (SPOILER ALERT) Laura reveals the supposed evil of her mother and grandmother is not true, her grandfather abused them and the supposed murder was, in reality, an accident and they went in hiding from an investigator that held a personal vendetta against her mother. In the end, when Laura comes in second on the show she shows genuine happiness for the winner, a ventriloquist named Alan. With his dreams of securing a stable performing job, Laura is freed from the false dream she falsely chased and Bo is freed from the liability of placing Laura into the situation.

Facing Reality

Spending a life of isolation in the forest sounds like a dream or a fantasy, yet Ahern made it Laura’s reality. All she knew is the surrounding wood and that she would receive supplies from her father once a week, having him as her only human contact. Once she is discovered by the film crew and her biological uncle, she discovers new personalities and that not all people are as friendly and warm up to one another as she and her father did. Once she is taken to the hotel she is hearing and repeating all the new sounds, such as the coffee machine. Although Laura says she knows the basics of modern society, through the articles of newspapers and magazines, they only give one the opinion or point-of-view from the journalists perspective. Therefore, potentially not providing one with the real/full perspective of society and its culture. One experiences Laura’s trials and stipulations of adapting to new surroundings and follow her awareness that it is not as simple and beautiful as the forests she once knew. Especially once she steps in the spotlight, she is followed by the press and any mistake comes under the scrutiny of the public.

Next Post- Themes Part 2

Reviews on Lyrebird

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

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/lyrebird-review-cecelia-ahern-plunges-into-the-world-of-reality-television-20170120-gtvfby.html

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/sweet-serenade-for-a-fish-out-of-water-35167969.html

http://www.star2.com/culture/books/book-reviews/2017/02/16/review-lyrebird/

Next Post: Themes

Cecelia Ahern- Author Profile

Cecelia Ahern was born and raised in Ireland, before embarking on her writing career she graduated Griffith College Dublin in 2002 with an undergraduate degree in Journalism. Shortly after finishing her degree Ahern decided to write her first novel, P.S. I Love You, which was published by Harper Collin Publishers in 2004. It quickly became a number one best-seller in Ireland, holding the position for 19 weeks, it also became a best-seller in the UK and America. The novel was considered popular enough to earn its own film adaptation in 2007. Since her first successful novel, Ahern has had a further fifteen novels and sufficient success, a further film-adaptation and another two in the works.

Ahern has received multiple awards for her works including Best Newcomer in the 2004/5 British Book Awards. Her most recent award was being the winner of the Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2014 after receiving an astonishing eight nominations for the award before. You can watch her acceptance speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-IHiT1OXqc Other honours she has received is Author of the Year for the UK Glamour Women of the Year Awards in 2008.

With a such a high standard of success and popularity, Ahern has a large following, not only her novels but also on social media. With Twitter and Instagram cultivating more than 50K followers. With this, she brings awareness to the importance and joy of reading to other, being involved in campaigns such as Books in My Bag. A campaign encouraging the support for “Physical books and physical book shops.”  As Ahern puts the campaign “is just a really great way of celebrating book shops and all they good that they do. For me, as an author, I really appreciate coming to bookstores, having events and meeting with my readers. It’s a really nice way of having that one-on-one contact.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s216skKfnVU

Ahern has seen an immense amount of success in her writing career and she uses that success to help benefit her fans who want to achieve a writing career such as hers or just enjoy reading her works. For more updates and information on Cecelia Ahern visit her website: http://uk.cecelia-ahern.com/

Next Post: Reviews on Lyrebird

Welcome

Welcome to my blog on Cecelia Ahern’s novel, Lyrebird.

The purpose of this blog is to introduce the author Cecelia Ahern and to discuss her latest novel, Lyrebird, as well as her past work. Giving one some background information before I discuss the topics of themes in contemporary literature. The tremendous question of this topic is if the novel, Lyrebird, can be considered literature? To answer that question, I first must acknowledge ‘what is literature?’

This is an open question, as there are a vast amount of opinions and theories as to what literature truly is. As literature is not just a book or a poem or play script. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of literature is a noun of “written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.” There are many well-known novels which are praised by critics and their readers, due to their exceptional display of written discourse and the stories themselves. Including: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride & Prejudice, Robinson Crusoe, Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Ulysses. An important definition of this novels is their definition of literary fiction.

In literary fiction, the plot is less important as it is the concentration on the novel’s main character which is the drive of the novel’s narrative and discourse. Also, the inclusion of language and dialogue is written with the intention of creating a verbal image, not for speech to be its primary purpose. For authors such as Cecelia Ahern and works such as Lyrebird, their work is defined as popular fiction. These pieces are driven by the plot (more happens than a literary fiction novel), language and dialogue are the main methods of discourse. Also, the narrative is set in familiar settings (modern time, culture, technology, etc.) this is for audiences to easily recognise where the story is set and making it easier for their entertainment.

Despite their different approaches to fiction, it is not a straight black and white image, there is a grey area. Themes are similar for both, they are handled by the author. Although, they are handled in different ways as according to their style in fiction, there are only so many themes which can be explored/interpreted. There are themes in Lyrebird, which can be seen in classic novels Cecelia Ahern has just touched them in a different way as to suit her audience. An audience which may not be interested in reading classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice or Romeo and Juliet. Maybe, they would be interested in reading a modern day tale of a complicated love story, in which Lyrebird characters, Laura, Solomon and Bo explore with a confusing love triangle.

Cecelia Ahern is a well-known author of popular fiction, while most book reviewers would praise her for her ideas and writing style. Those are the supporters of popular fiction, who are aware that those who are on the platform for literary fiction, their minds will not be changed by authors such as Cecelia Ahern. Such The Irish Times, writer Sara Keating, despite a clear-cut review of Lyrebird. “Lyrebird will do nothing to convince literary snobs that popular fiction is worth greater attention, but it does showcase the genre at its best.” http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/lyrebird-review-cecelia-ahern-s-sophisticated-new-story-is-rooted-in-romance-1.2838546

Despite, the novel not falling clearly into literary it does not clearly belong to popular fiction. Keep following my posts and explore Cecelia Ahern and her latest work with me.

Next Post: Cecelia Ahern-Author Bio