PERSONAL: Born in County Tyrone, Ireland; married; husband's name Richard. Education: Attended Queen's University, Belfast.
ADDRESSES: Home—Reading, Berkshire, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, William Morrow, 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer, journalist, television producer and director. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Northern Ireland, newsreader, announcer, and reporter; BBC Radio, presenter. Producer and director of television documentaries.
Emerald Greens: The Essential Guide to Holiday Golf in Ireland, Appletree (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 2000.
Singing Bird (novel), William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Author Roisin McAuley grew up in County Tyrone, Ireland, in the 1950s. After studying history at Queen's University in Belfast, she became a newsreader and announcer with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Northern Ireland. During her career as a broadcast journalist, she also served as producer and director of several televised documentaries and as a writer and presenter of programs on BBC Radio.
In her debut novel, Singing Bird, McAuley tells the story of Lena Molloy, a contented middle-aged English woman living in California. Her long marriage to Jack, a successful businessman, and her deep-rooted Catholic faith bring her great happiness and stability. The Molloys' daughter, Mary, adopted as an infant twenty-seven years earlier, is a rising talent in the opera world and a source of much joy for her parents. Lena receives a surprise call from Sister Monica, the nun who originally handled Mary's adoption through Saint Joseph's Home in Ireland. Sister Monica says she is retiring soon and is just calling as part of a final check-up on the children she placed, but Lena believes there may be another reason for the call. The call inspires Lena to reflect on her own status as an adopted child and to wonder about Mary's biological parents. She never knew her birth parents; is it fair that Mary go through life not knowing hers as well? With Jack away on a business trip, Lena decides to head to Dublin with her friend Alma, ostensibly to see Mary perform in concert, but intending to find out all she can about her daughter's natural parents. Her investigations throughout Ireland uncover possibilities that challenge her moral code and Catholic faith.
Singing Bird "is an interesting social drama that leaves the audience pondering difficult ethics questions" related to truth, family, and the sexual behavior of priests and nuns, commented Harriet Klausner in MBR Bookwatch. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "McAuley deftly captures Lena's unwavering drive while building suspense, though coincidences and surprises … may strain credibility." The reviewer called the book a "poised debut," while Booklist reviewer Deborah Donovan described it as an "engaging debut" and an "engrossing tale." Lena "makes an earnest attempt to grapple with issues of sin and forgivness" while staying true to her own religious beliefs, noted a Kirkus Reviews critic, while Klausner concluded that the book is "a deep character study that entertains yet challenges the audience."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2004, Deborah Donovan, review of Singing Bird, p. 557.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2004, review of Singing Bird, p. 980.
MBR Bookwatch, January, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Singing Bird.
Publishers Weekly, November 15, 2004, review of Singing Bird, p. 42.