100 reasons why fans will love Ahern's latest novel too
Published 14/10/2012 | 08:00
Many critics who doled out scathing reviews of Cecelia Ahern's debut novel PS, I Love You back in 2004 assumed she would be a one-hit wonder.
They were convinced that the then Taoiseach's younger daughter had received her €million deal thanks to, in no particular order, her father, her mother, her sister, Westlife and her agent Marianne Gunn O'Connor.
The book-buying public didn't care who was responsible. They were entranced by her idea of a dying husband helping his grieving wife to learn to live without him through his love letters.
PS, I Love You, quickly went to the top of the Irish bestseller list, outselling Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. It stayed at number one for months and was eventually made into a movie starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.
Ahern is now one of the country's wealthiest writers, selling 15 million books in 46 countries and there's little doubt that her ninth novel, One Hundred Names, will be yet another bestseller, despite any critical carping.
She wrote her latest novel while pregnant and previously attributed her success to a passion for work, inherited from her father.
But another of our former Taoiseach's characteristics plays a considerable role - the ability to connect to people. Like many writers, Ahern somehow manages to tap into that universal desire for life-affirmation but her quirky approach differentiated her from contemporaries. At least until now. In One Hundred Names, Ahern again plays it straight. However, this seemingly conventional approach wasn't without controversy.
The main character, journalist Kitty Logan, has lost her job on a current-affairs programme after falsely accusing a man of child abuse and the station has to make a costly payout.
It may sound slightly reminiscent of Fr Kevin Reynolds' libel action against RTÃ‰. Prime Time Investigates had alleged that the Galway priest fathered a child with a Kenyan woman. The broadcaster had to pay substantial damages and journalist Aoife Kavanagh eventually resigned.
However, Ahern's agent has maintained that Cecelia had the idea for the book long before the Fr Reynolds libel action. And truth be told, this is only the starting point for Ahern's story.
The editor of a current-affairs magazine, Constance, has a terminal illness. But before she dies, she tells Kitty there is a final story that she wishes she could write.
The files in her former editor's office reveal a list of 100 names, and soon Kitty becomes embroiled in a race against time to prove the link between these people as she struggles to re-establish her professional credibility and her value - to herself and to others.
This heart-warming tale is quite absorbing and Cecelia's many fans will appreciate its escapism. Will it follow the same starry road as PS, I Love You? Only her readers can be the judge of that.