Thursday 24 May 2018

Review: Romantic fiction: When Love Takes Over Caroline by Grace-Cassidy

Poolbeg, €15.99
Available withfree P&P or bycalling 091 709350

The lure of novel writing has always attracted people from other professions. Before putting pen to paper, TS Eliot toiled away as a bank clerk, JD Salinger worked on a cruise ship and Stephen King roamed the corridors as a school janitor.

The boundaries between actor and author have always been particularly fluid and several Irish actresses have tried their hand at chicklit. Ex-Clinic star Amy Huberman is currently finishing her second novel while former Fair City actress Claudia Carroll's ninth novel will be on the shelves this summer. And now Caroline Grace-Cassidy has joined in.

Caroline has been a working actress for the last 10 years. But after narrowly missing out on the role of Linda in hit RTE drama Love/Hate, she decided to give writing a go. She managed to get When Love Takes Over on to the page in just 12 weeks -- and it wasn't long before publishers Poolbeg snapped it up.

The novel opens as easy-going 30-something Mia, an estate agent, greets the morning after the night before. Following her as she mentally retraces her steps the night before, we realise that happily single Mia has just bedded the builder that best mate and landlord Carla has hired to renovate her period property.

Meanwhile, Mia's cosy work set-up is heading for turmoil. Her recession-hit boss Dominic slashes her wages, forcing her to compete with new girl Anita.

As the novel progresses, Mia's world begins to disintegrate.

The strength of this novel lies in the honesty of its portrayal of 30-somethings living in contemporary Dublin. Mia and Carla like to go to the pub, and often end their working day with a couple of beers in the local, followed by a Chinese takeaway.

At no point does the author paint her narrative in judgement-laden brushstrokes. She refrains from sending Mia into a self-loathing decline that she must climb out of. Mia gets her happy ending, and without having to reach any life-changing epiphanies.

When Love Takes Over is a humorous take on Dublin life that tells it like it is, attaining a level of authenticity that more than makes up for the sometimes overworked dialogue. Irish chicklit authors will have to make room for a successful new arrival.

Rachel Dugan

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