Don't Call It Chick Lit

By Brownell, Ginanne | Newsweek International, March 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

Don't Call It Chick Lit


Brownell, Ginanne, Newsweek International


Byline: Ginanne Brownell

Cecelia Ahern may be the Irish prime minister's daughter, but that's not why her fans love her.

Cecelia Ahern seems to have the luck of the Irish. Her latest book, "Thanks for the Memories," will be published across Europe next month, and if it's anything like her last four, it's certain to become an international best seller. The plot revolves around two people who become linked by blood: a woman who survives a terrible accident, and a recently divorced art lecturer who donates the blood that saves her. After the transfusion, the woman begins to experience memories of events she never witnessed. The novel blends elements of a thriller with traditional chick-lit themes like romance, friendship and adventure. But it also touches a deeper plane, musing on such topics as grief, mental confusion and childhood loneliness. "Chick lit isn't a nice term," says Ahern, 26. "Just because something is heartwarming and appeals to women does not mean it lacks intelligence."

Whatever you call it, Ahern's work certainly has marketing smarts. Since her first effort, "P.S. I Love You," was published four years ago, her books have sold a total of 6 million copies in 46 countries. In addition, all have been optioned as films or TV series. "P.S. I Love You," starring Hilary Swank as a young widow and Gerard Butler as the dead husband who sends her letters from beyond the grave, hit screens earlier this year, and her second book, "Where the Rainbow Ends," written as a series of e-mails, instant messages and letters between two childhood friends who later fall in love, was optioned by a London film producer in February. Her third novel, "If You Could See Me Now," is being made into a musical film starring Hugh Jackman, while the fourth, "A Place Called Here," is being developed as a TV drama series in the United States. Ahern is also the creator and a coproducer of the hit U.S. television series "Samantha Who?", about a psychiatrist with amnesia, which recently won the People's Choice Award for best new comedy. Indeed, it's a true measure of her literary success that she's better known for her writing than her status as Ireland's first daughter: her father, Bertie Ahern, is the country's prime minister. "Cecelia Ahern is an Irish success story," says Caroline Walsh, literary editor of The Irish Times. "With its economic transformation, Ireland has fast progressed from a victim culture to latte culture. To some extent, the women popular fiction writers have best encapsulated this, with Cecelia serving as her generation's head of this school. …

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