Ahern, Cecelia 1981–

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Ahern, Cecelia 1981–

PERSONAL:

Born September 30, 1981; daughter of Bertie (a politician) and Miriam Ahern. Education: Graduated from Griffith College.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Dublin, Ireland. Agent—Marianne Gunn O'Connor, Ste. 17, Morrison Chambers, 32 Nassau St., Dublin 2, Ireland. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Writer, cocreator, and producer for television series, Samantha Who?, ABC, 2007. Appears on Irish television.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Irish Post Award for Literature, Corine Award, both 2005, for Where Rainbows End; Fun Fearless Fiction Award, Cosmopolitan, 2007, for If You Could See Me Now; Glamour Women of the Year Awards, best writer, 2008.

WRITINGS:

PS, I Love You, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

Rosie Dunne, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005, published as Where Rainbows End, HarperCollins (London, England), 2005.

If You Could See Me Now, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.

Mrs Whippy, New Island (Dublin, Ireland), 2006.

A Place Called Here, HarperCollins (London, England), 2006, published as There's No Place Like Here, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Thanks for the Memories, HarperCollins (London, England), 2008.

The Gift, HarperCollins (London, England), 2008.

Contributor to Irish Girls Are Back in Town, Downtown Press, 2005, and other anthologies. Contributor of stories to periodicals, including Express magazine, Harrod's magazine, Woman's Own, and Woman and Home.

ADAPTATIONS:

PS, I Love You was adapted for a feature film, Wendy Finerman Productions, 2007, starring Hilary Swank and Lisa Kudrow; it was also adapted as an audiobook by Books on Tape; If You Could See Me Now was optioned for a film by SB Films and Gold Circle and produced as a musical, starring Hugh Jackman; There's No Place Like Here was optioned for a television series by Touchstone.

SIDELIGHTS:

Cecelia Ahern, the daughter of Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, caused quite a splash with her first novel, PS, I Love You. The novel tells the story of a young Dubliner widow, Holly, whose husband, Gerry, recently died of brain cancer. Before he died, Gerry mailed Holly a set of ten small envelopes, each containing one thing that he wanted Holly to do to help her get on with her life. Each month, from March through December, Holly opens one envelope and carries out the task. Family members include Holly's colorful—in both personality and hair color—younger sister, who cheerfully bares her buttocks at a family dinner to show off her new tattoo, and her brother Declan, an aspiring filmmaker who tapes Holly and her friends on their drunken pub crawl to celebrate Holly's birthday and turns the footage into a "Girls Gone Wild"-style movie titled Girls and the City.

While some reviewers criticized the book's plot as contrived and maudlin, others praised Ahern for creating a likable heroine and for adroitly handling a difficult subject. "Ahern has a way with funny, sparkly dialogue," Bernice Harrison commented in Irish Times, and she "perfectly balanced" the humor and the heartbreak. Ahern also "boasts a natural storytelling talent," declared a Publishers Weekly contributor, "resulting in a compelling tale sparked by an unusual premise."

The international success of PS, I Love You, brought Ahern most definitely out of the shadow of her prime minister father. Ahern's second novel, Rosie Dunne (published in England as Where Rainbows End), is story told almost solely through the use of letters, text messages, and e-mails. It is the story of childhood friends Rosie and Alex, who attempt to maintain their connection over the years though separated by the Atlantic Ocean. The two grow up in Dublin, but then Alex's parents move to Boston and they are separated. Rosie plans to go to the United States for college to once again be near Alex, but she becomes pregnant the night of her high school graduation and her life takes a divergent path from that of Alex. A single mother, she visits Alex during his last year in college only to discover that he is engaged. Then Rosie returns to Dublin to make a life for herself and her daughter, while Alex remains in Boston, building his own life and career. The novel continues to follow the pair through part of their lives, and Rosie's daughter Katie later has a similar epistolary relationship with her young friend, Toby. Lighter in touch than Ahern's first novel, Rosie Dunne "is chick lit at its best," thought Library Journal reviewer Rebecca Vnuk. Writing in Booklist, Kristine Huntley also had praise for this second novel, noting that "readers will enjoy the breezy epistolary style and likable characters." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented, "Rosie Dunne is a worthy protagonist, complex enough to be compelling and ordinary enough to be believable."

With the 2006 novel If You Could See Me Now, Ahern "employs an imaginary best friend to breathe distinctiveness into an otherwise stereotypical Irish tale," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. The novel's protagonist, Elizabeth Egan, thirty-five and an interior designer in a small Irish town, has a well-ordered life. Work and caring for her adopted son (her nephew, actually, whom her alcoholic sister has abandoned) are her twin passions. Then Ivan enters her life. He is a fun-loving man who brings snatches of spontaneity to her life and that of her adopted son, Luke, who seems to be the only one able to see this ageless spirit at first. Elizabeth, however, can sense his presence. Visible or not, Ivan changes Elizabeth's staid and safe life forever. Ivan becomes interested in this woman and finally she can actually see Ivan herself, and then this odd couple begins to fall in love. The Publishers Weekly reviewer called If You Could See Me Now an "uplifting, sentimental tale." Writing again in Booklist, Huntley found this novel "charming," further terming it "an imaginative twist on romantic comedy." Library Journal contributor Anika Fajardo also commended this third novel, writing that "the story line is original and charming in a bizarre, chick-lit-meets-Harry-Potter kind of way."

Ahern's 2007 novel, There's No Place Like Here, "veers away from traditional chick lit, blending mystery and fantasy," as Library Journal reviewer Fajardo noted. The misnamed Sandy Shortt is a tall detective with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her detective agency specializes in missing persons. Inspired by a neighborhood girl who disappeared when Shortt was an adolescent, the detective has spent her entire life looking for misplaced things or people. Then, when she becomes lost one day in the woods, she becomes one of her own missing people. She discovers a strange land where everything and everyone she ever lost has been accumulated, and this may help her find her true self and love. Fajardo termed this book "fascinating and pleasant." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, though complain- ing of some "confusion" in the work, went on to state that "the underlying message about cherishing what you have comes through loudly by the end." Higher praise came from Booklist reviewer Huntley, who concluded: "A positively magical novel, Ahern's latest sparkles with wit, compelling characters, and a truly clever premise."

Ahern, who was just out of college when her first novel scored such a huge success, has become internationally popular, and not only with her novels. The U.S. feature film adaptation of PS, I Love You made it into theaters in 2007, and that same year she also cocreated a popular television series, Samantha Who?, for the American Broadcasting Company. In a BookPage interview with Katherine Wyrick, Ahern described her early success as "‘a mixture of a lot of luck and a lot of hard work.’"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of PS, I Love You, p. 1034; January 1, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of Rosie Dunne, p. 811; December 15, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of If You Could See Me Now, p. 22; September 1, 2007, Kristine Huntley, review of There's No Place Like Here, p. 57.

Bookseller, May 28, 2004, "Summer Love," p. 15.

Boston Herald, February 6, 2004, Raakhee P. Mirchandani, review of PS, I Love You, p. 30.

Guardian (London, England), February 5, 2004, Angelique Chrisafis, "I'd Never Even Heard of Chick Lit," interview, p. 8.

Houston Chronicle, February 1, 2004, Shawn Pogatchnik, "Book Turns Leader's Daughter into Ireland's Literary Darling" (interview), p. 48.

Irish Times, January 27, 2003, "Cecelia Ahern Secures Film Rights Deal," p. 6; July 3, 2004, Bernice Harrison, review of PS, I Love You, p. 62.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of PS, I Love You, p. 95; November 15, 2007, review of There's No Place Like Here.

Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Rebecca Vnuk, review of Rosie Dunne, p. 93; October 1, 2005, Barbara Valle, review of Rosie Dunne, p. 119; December 1, 2005, Anika Fajardo, review of If You Could See Me Now, p. 109; September 1, 2006, Barbara Valle, review of If You Could See Me Now, p. 188; December 1, 2007, Anika Fajardo, review of There's No Place Like Here, p. 97.

Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 25, 2004, Louette Harding, "The PM's Latest Vote-Winner," interview, p. 30.

Mirror (London, England), January 21, 2004, Fiona Wynne, "I Won't Say Sorry My Books Have Made Me a Million … I Worked Too Hard," interview, p. 12.

People, March 8, 2004, "The Writing Irish: Take That, James Joyce! Cecelia Ahern, Daughter of Ireland's Prime Minister, Quits School and Reaps $1 Million for Her First Novel," p. 106.

Publishers Weekly, December 22, 2003, review of PS, I Love You, p. 34; February 16, 2004, Natalie Danford, "Chick Lit Wears Black: Young Widows Are in Vogue This Season, but It's Tough to Stand out from the Crowd," pp. 59-60; January 3, 2005, review of Rosie Dunne, p. 34; February 28, 2005, review of Irish Girls Are Back in Town, p. 43; November 28, 2005, review of If You Could See Me Now, p. 25; October 29, 2007, review of There's No Place Like Here, p. 31.

Rocky Mountain News, April 20, 2004, Vicky Uhland, review of PS, I Love You, p. D12.

Sun (London, England), December 21, 1998, "Will They Be the New B*Witched?" p. 11.

Sunday Times (London, England), January 25, 2004, John Burns, "New Chick on the Block Likes to Stay in Next," interview, p. 5.

USA Today, January 2, 2008, Olivia Barker, "Young ‘Irish Lass’ Off and Running in USA."

ONLINE

Bella Online,http://www.bellaonline.com/ (August 28, 2008), Tony King, review of Rosie Dunne.

Blog Critics,http://blogcritics.org/ (June 24, 2006), Jim Symcox, review of If You Could See Me Now.

BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (August 28, 2008), Katherine Wyrick, "Flights of Fancy," interview with Cecelia Ahern.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (August 28, 2008), interview with Cecelia Ahern; Terry Miller Shannon, review of There's No Place Like Here; Jennifer McCord, review of If You Could See Me Now; Marie Hashima Lofton, review of Rosie Dunne.

BreeniBooks.com,http://breenibooks.blogspot.com/ (August 30, 2007), review of Rosie Dunne.

Cecelia Ahern Home Page,http://www.ceceliaahern.ie (August 28, 2008).

Fresh Fiction,http://www.freshfiction.com/ (December 30, 2005), Jennifer Vido, review of If You Could See Me Now.

Hyperion Books Web Site,http://www.hyperionbooks.com/ (August 27, 2004), "Cecelia Ahern."

Jandy's Reading Room, http://www.janbysbooks.com/ (December 27, 2007), review of Rosie Dunne.

Cecelia Ahern MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/ceceliaahern (August 29, 2008).

New York Post Online,http://www.nypost.com/ (December 27, 2007), Mary Huhn, "Woman of Letters."

Trashionista,http://www.trashionista.com/ (August 28, 2008), Claire Allan, review of A Place Called Here.