Kelly, Cathy 1966-

views updated

KELLY, Cathy 1966-

PERSONAL: Born September 12, 1966, in Belfast, Northern Ireland; daughter of Patrick (an insurance surveyor) and Gabrielle (McAndrew) Bealin-Kelly; companion of John Sheehan (a company director); children: two sons. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: College of Commerce, Rathmines, Ireland, certificate in journalism. Politics: Liberal. Religion: Christian.

ADDRESSES: Home—County Wicklow, Ireland. Office—Sunday World, 18 Rathfarnham Rd., Terenure, Dublin 6, Ireland. Agent—Ali Gunn, Curtis Brown, Haymarket House, London SW1Y 4SP, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, journalist, advice columnist, and film critic. Sunday World, Dublin, Ireland, began as news reporter, currently columnist, 1986–. UNICEF Ireland, Global Parent Ambassador.

MEMBER: National Union of Journalists.

AWARDS, HONORS: Named Young Journalist of the Year, 1986; Parker Romantic Novel of the Year Award, 2001, for Someone like You.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Woman to Woman, Headline (London, England), 1997.

She's the One, Headline (London, England), 1998.

Never Too Late, Headline (London, England), 1999.

Someone like You, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

What She Wants, HarperCollins (London, England), 2001, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.

Best of Friends, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Always and Forever, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Just between Us, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2006.

OTHER

Author of "Dear Cathy" advice column. Kelly's works have been translated into many languages.

SIDELIGHTS: Irish author Cathy Kelly is a novelist, columnist, and journalist. According to a biography posted on her home page, Kelly always wanted to write novels. After finally making the decision to do so, she wrote her first novel, Woman to Woman, on her dining room table at nights and weekends. The book became a bestseller, and inaugurated Kelly's career as a novelist.

In her books, Kelly focuses on the thoughts, needs, lives, and relationships of a variety of female characters. Kelly has stated that the nature of her characters may be a main contributor to her novels' success. "I've always been a voracious reader, and the sort of books I hated most were ones about these gilded, glamorous people who had loads of money, buckets of self-confidence and were stunningly beautiful," The novelist mused in an interview on her home page. "They never seemed real to me. So when I started to write, I wanted to write about people who were the opposite of that. My characters are normal people, with problems paying the mortgage and a huge load of ironing waiting to be done. Perhaps that's why the books are successful but I don't know."

Someone like You was Kelly's first novel published in the United States. While vacationing in Egypt, three women meet by chance and become quick, close friends. Hannah Campbell is a career woman in her middle thirties, who is still good-looking and sexually active, but haunted by a ten-year affair gone sour. Emma Sheridan, age thirty-one, is a mild-mannered woman still unduly influenced by the corrosive personalities of her parents. Emma is also upset by her inability to have a child. Leonie Delaney, an overweight divorced mother of three teenagers, is trapped in a series of dead-end dates and lonely outcomes. After the trio returns from their trip, they manage to stay in touch, meeting once a month as their friendship deepens. All three, they find, have a personal goal that drives them, but which they have not shared. Emma wants to escape her obnoxious and domineering father. Hannah is driven by the pursuit of security and independence, which she is convinced that no man can provide for her. Leonie seeks perhaps the highest and most elusive goal of all: true love.

Booklist reviewer Kathleen Hughes remarked that Someone like You "will appeal to readers who favor warm and funny contemporary women's fiction about realistic women." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Kelly's "saga of hope and disillusionment is fully equipped with soul-searching, sex and, above all, comforting female friendship."

In What She Wants, four women struggle to determine what is dissatisfying about their lives and what they really want from their family, friends, and careers. Hope gives a higher priority to the needs and wants of her husband, Matt, and her children than to her own. Sam, Hope's middle-aged sister, suppresses her personal wants for the sake of her career in the recording industry. Virginia, recently widowed, feels the presence of her husband even as she starts rebuilding her life without him. Young party-girl Nicole, whose voice is a marketable talent, must deal with her fledgling career as a pop star while navigating the tumult of first love. With settings in an Irish village and urban London, the book contrasts peaceful reflection with hard-charging city-dweller determination. Kelly's work "communicates highly charged yet recognizable emotional issues through resilient and realistically drawn characters," commented Carol Haggas in Booklist. Library Journal critic Nanci Milone Hill called the novel a "fun tale of four women trying to cope with life."

Best of Friends explores the lives of four female friends as they cope with family and tragedy. Abby Barton is enjoying her newfound celebrity as host of the television show Declutter, but feels considerable pressure from her husband and daughter. When an old lover reappears, she toys with actions that could ruin her career and break up her family. Erin Kennedy returns to Ireland after years of being estranged from her family because she discovered that the woman she thought was her mother was in fact her grandmother. Lizzie Shanahan battles loneliness even as she helps and nurtures everyone but herself, including a scheming daughter whose upcoming marriage threatens Lizzie's financial stability. Sally Richardson is a salon owner content with her husband and sons, but she beomes devastated when she learns she has breast cancer. After facing the pain of Sally's death, the remaining three friends reassess their lives and make decisions about those things that are truly important to them. Harriet Klausner, writing in MBR Bookwatch, noted that "the character driven subplots are complex and interesting as the surviving trio begins to appreciate what they already have." Readers will "savor this satisfying testament to the power of friendship and romance to soften life's blows and bolster its joys," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Kelly once told CA: "When people ask about my motivation to write, there's always the desire to grin wickedly and say 'Show me the money,' which is more because I have a sense of humor about what I do than because I write primarily for financial gain! Celtic humor aside, I write because I grew up living in a fantasy world, thanks to reading, and I couldn't imagine anything better than writing as a career. I love reading and always have. In fact, the biggest threat to my career as a writer is the amount of time I spend reading other people's books.

"Needless to say, putting 'author' on the 'what would you like to do when you grow up' slot on official papers at school sounded remarkably stupid, so I plumped for a career in journalism instead. Hired as a news reporter for Ireland's best-selling national Sunday paper, Sunday World, I scrambled into the world of features as soon as I decently could and ended up as my paper's film critic and agony aunt (don't ask). During all of this, I still thought about writing, but kept putting it off on the grounds that I didn't have a word processor at home or didn't have time, et cetera, what with going off to interview movie stars.

"When my nearest and dearest finally demanded to know when I was going to stop talking about doing it and just do it, I had to get my bum on the seat and write. I wrote my first book, Woman to Woman, over a period of eighteen months. When it was published, it went to Number One in the Irish Times chart, and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

"I choose my subjects from real life—I hope. I write about modern women who have to cope with everything life throws at them. Because I loathe the sort of modern books where the heroines all wear head-to-toe Yves St-Laurent and never have to worry about where their next penny is coming from, I wanted to write books about normal women. I also kept thinking that I wouldn't go far wrong if I wrote the sort of book I like to read.

"My writing process involves not being precious about it and forcing myself to sit at the desk, in precisely the same way you have to in a newsroom. When it comes to my advice for aspiring authors, that's it: stop talking about it and discipline yourself into actually writing. You need to be ruthlessly disciplined to write, particularly if you do it along with a day job, as I did for so long. Making yourself write every day is the only way I know of actually writing a book. It's hard work but so rewarding at the end!"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 2001, Kathleen Hughes, review of Someone like You, p. 1534; June 1, 2003, Carol Haggas, review of What She Wants, p. 1743.

Bookseller, March 25, 2005, review of Always and Forever, p. 8.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of What She Wants, p. 771.

Library Journal, July, 2004, Nanci Milone Hill, review of What She Wants, p. 123.

MBR Bookwatch, March 25, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Best of Friends.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2001, review of Someone like You, p. 49; May 19, 2003, review of What She Wants, p. 49; December 20, 2004, review of Best of Friends, p. 36.

ONLINE

AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (September 5, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Someone like You.

Bibliofemme, http://www.bibliofemme.com/ (September 5, 2005), review of Someone like You.

BookReporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 5, 2005), Kate Ayers, review of What She Wants; Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum, review of Someone like You.

Cathy Kelly Home Page, http://www.cathykelly.com (September 5, 2005).