Books: Love, Dublin taxis and fish-finger sandwiches
Ciara Geraghty Hachette Ireland; tpbk,€17.95, 400 pages Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709 350
THE main character in this book, 42-year-old Vinnie – a down-on-his-luck single father whose culinary speciality is fish- finger sandwiches – is an unusual choice of hero in the romantic fiction genre. But then Dublin author Ciara Geraghty isn't your run-of-the-mill women's fiction writer.
For a start, she has a terrific sense of humour. "My mother took one look at me when I was born and decided to call me Ciara – pronounced Keira, as in Keira Knightley, but with lower cheek bones."
When she was 34, she signed up for a creative writing nightclass in Plunket College in Whitehall where she started writing stories. "I haven't stopped since," she says.
Her debut novel Saving Grace in 2008 catapulted the mother of three into the league of much-loved writers such as Marian Keyes. Since then, Geraghty has continued to hit the bestsellers' lists with Becoming Scarlett, Finding Mr Flood and Lifesaving for Beginners.
The heroine in this novel, Ellen, is also a rare breed; a woman who was in a horrific car crash which robbed her of everything she held dear. She has a scar on her face and walks with a limp, but it is the scars that no one can see that she really struggles with.
Once a workaholic doctor running a busy clinic, she now watches daytime television and only leaves her upmarket apartment every Friday to attend a physiotherapy session. Taxi driver Vinnie ferries her from Clontarf to Portmarnock for this appointment every week.
Over a year previously, Vinnie's wife Paula had walked out on him and their two children leaving a note which read: "Don't look for me, Vinnie."
Finn, who is seven, wets the bed at night and asks, "Is Mammy back yet?" every day. Even more heartbreaking is Kerry's reaction – at 14 she has become a sullen, troubled teenager who is in danger of being expelled from school.
The backgrounds of Vinnie, a taxi driver, and Ellen, a doctor, couldn't be more different, but they begin to get to know each other when Vinnie has a panic attack behind the wheel of his cab. He's convinced he's dying of a heart attack, but Ellen recognises a panic attack when she sees it and gives him a brown paper bag to blow into. They begin to build a relationship, but when Paula turns up on Vinnie's doorstep, expecting to live happily ever after, the cat is thoroughly put among the pigeons.
Now That I've Found You is a page-turner about two people letting go of the past and forging a future, despite great trauma and loss. It is told in the first person through Vinnie's eyes, but also through letters that Ellen writes to her former husband, Neil, a literary device that works exceptionally well here.
Vinnie's friends Kenny and Janine are particularly well-drawn and the real working-class Dublin sense of humour is caught perfectly by the author. Vinnie's mother is a particularly funny character who has her nose stuck in everything and – much to his children's amusement – treats Vinnie as if he's still a child, telling him he's not too old for "a clip around the ear".
With this witty and poignant novel, Ciara Geraghty continues to earn her well-deserved place among the best women writers in romantic fiction working in Ireland today. Fish finger sandwich, anyone?