Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Chick lit queen beats ‘mummy porn’ madame in books battle

It's mummy porn versus chick lit. Irish novelist Marian Keyes has struck a blow against the incredible might of the Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy by helping topple it from the top of the book charts.

Northern Ireland women have been fuelling the success of sex and bondage thriller Fifty Shades by snapping it up in their thousands.

But now they seem to be seeking out a tamer, more warm-hearted read in Keyes’ The Mystery Of Mercy Close.

After dominating the book charts for an astonishing 18 weeks, EL James’ worldwide hit about sadomasochism has been beaten into submission by Keyes’ moving and very funny novel.

There is little surprise Keyes was the author to send Fifty Shades packing, as she has sold more than 22 million books during her celebrated career and is a favourite author among women.

According to Nielsen Bookscan figures, the official statistics for the book trade, The Mystery Of Mercy Close was the bestselling book on the island of Ireland last week across all categories.

For paperback and hardback copies, The Mystery Of Mercy Close sold 4,560 — compared to 3,851 for Fifty Shades of Grey — in one week.

And, anecdotally, many bookstores in Northern Ireland are reporting Keyes outselling James.

Keyes took to Twitter in her typical cheery and cheeky style to relay the following message to her fans.

“Thank you for all the congratulations about Shades Of Sh***,” she said. “But rest assured, there are one or two ‘saucy’ passages in Mercy Close...”

She has is the past, however, praised the selling ability of Fifty Shades. “Fifty Shades is a publishing phenomenon, so to have so much support from the Irish book-buying public means everything to me,” she said. “I’m so grateful and I feel very appreciated.”

In Belfast Keyes’ new book is this week’s number one at Eason in Donegall Place, but the Lee Child thriller, A Wanted Man, has pushed her into second place at Waterstones in Fountain Street.

Keyes, whose new novel is her first fiction offering since suffering a crippling bout of depression, is one of the most successful writers in Irish literature.

Meanwhile, the Belfast spoof version of the book, called Fifty Shades Of Red, White and Blue, is published by Blackstaff Press today. Written by mother-of-two Leesa Harker, from the Shore Road area of north Belfast, she will be signing copies of her debut novel today at Eason in Donegall Place from 5pm.

“I have been so busy. It’s all very exciting,” she said.

Factfile

Top 5, Eason, Donegall Place, Belfast

1. Marian Keyes, The Mystery Of Mercy Close

2. Wayne Rooney, My Decade In the Premier League

3. Mark Owen, No Easy Day

4. Gordon Lucy, The Ulster Covenant

5. EL James, 50 Shades Of Grey

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