Wednesday 11 December 2019

My cultural life: journalist and author Rachael English

Rachel English
Rachel English
Derry Girls
Bruce Springsteen

Rachael English has been a journalist for 25 years, and is well known for presenting RTE's Morning Ireland. She has always been an enthusiastic reader but only started writing seven years ago. Her first novel, Going Back, was shortlisted for the most-promising newcomer award at the Bord Gais Irish Book Awards and spent two months in the Top 10. Her subsequent books have also been top-five bestsellers. Originally from County Clare, Rachael and her husband live in Dublin. The American Girl is her third book.

Film: Spotlight

Journalists always love films about journalism, but for me there's something special about Spotlight (below). Every little detail rings true, and the story - about the cover-up of clerical child abuse in Boston - is devastating. I like the fact that for the first half an hour or more, the film's pace is unapologetically slow. I also like its subtlety. There's a powerful scene quite early on where a man talks about his abuser. Then the shot changes, and you see the track marks on his arms. That one shot says everything that needs to be said about the suffering of survivors.


Art: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The American Girl tells the story of an Irish-American teenager who becomes pregnant in the late 1960s. To avoid shame, her parents send her to a mother and baby home in the west of Ireland. It's an experience that leaves her with deep scars, and in later life she finds that art provides her with temporary solace. One of her favourite places is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The museum is unusual in that as well as many beautiful paintings, the collection also contains furniture, letters and rare books. It's a captivating place.

TV: Derry Girls

Derry Girls

I've always been more of a radio listener than television viewer. I was the sad child wishing everyone would quieten down so I could hear the news. I still listen to a lot of radio. I have a particular fondness for comedies, like Ed Reardon's Week, on Radio 4. Because of this, I often miss out on TV series, so Netflix has been a godsend. My favourites are crime dramas like Happy Valley and Line of Duty. The one new programme I've seen is Derry Girls (above). I thought the first episode was hilarious.

Book: The Amateur Marriage

Like most book people, I find it impossible to choose one favourite. But if I had to pick an author, I'd go for Anne Tyler. Of all her books, the one I love most is The Amateur Marriage. I couldn't tell you how many times I've read it. Every time I take away something new. There's something so beautifully simple about her writing, you feel like you could sing the words. There's usually a light humour to her books, but often a seam of tragedy too.

Music: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

One of my New Year's resolutions is to listen to more, and different, music. Currently I'm playing three Bruce Springsteen (above) songs on a loop: For You, Incident on 57th Street and Murder Incorporated. Apologies to my neighbours who have probably been forced to listen to them.

'The American Girl', published by Hachette Ireland, is out now in paperback, approx €9.


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