‘Just a small-town girl living in a notions world…..’
From the creators of the now infamous Facebook page comes the book of the same name. Oh My God What A Complete Aisling (#OMGWACA) has soared up the Irish Book Charts holding it’s own at Number 1 up against some very tough competition.
Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are the creators of this genuinely heartwarming girl, called Aisling. With nearly 48,000 members in their member’s only Facebook page, it was high time that the rest of the world got a little peek into the life & world of Aisling…
Published in September 2017 by Gill Books, I received my copy of #OMGWACA in my goodie bag at the BGE Irish Book Awards in November. The perfect feel good read!!
Please read on for my thoughts…
Aisling is twenty-eight and she’s a complete … Aisling. She lives at home in Ballygobbard (or Ballygobackwards, as some gas tickets call it) with her parents and commutes to her good job at PensionsPlus in Dublin.
Aisling goes out every Saturday night with her best friend Majella, who is a bit of a hames (she’s lost two phones already this year – Aisling has never lost a phone). They love hoofing into the Coors Light if they’re ‘Out’, or the vodka and Diet Cokes if they’re ‘Out Out’.
Ais spends two nights a week at her boyfriend John’s. He’s from down home and was kiss number seventeen at her twenty-first.
But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants out of her parents’ house, although she’d miss Mammy turning on the electric blanket like clockwork and Daddy taking her car ‘out for a spin’ and bringing it back full of petrol.
When a week in Tenerife with John doesn’t end with the expected engagement, Aisling calls a halt to things and soon she has surprised herself and everyone else by agreeing to move into a three-bed in Portobello with stylish Sadhbh from HR and her friend, the mysterious Elaine.
Newly single and relocated to the big city, life is about to change utterly for this wonderful, strong, surprising and funny girl, who just happens to be a complete Aisling.
From the opening pages the laughs begin as a typical eaves-dropping scene unfolds. Aisling is at a wedding and is in a bathroom cubicle when she overhears two other guests talking about her. They laugh in recollection of her earlier antics and recall how EVERYONE knows someone like Aisling..
‘”Loads of girls in work are like her. Real sensible types, all from down the country. One of them wears her county jersey every casual Friday and then throws on a pair of earrings for going to the pub afterwards……” There’s a bit of tittering now and I’m not sure why. Sure a good pair of dangly earrings can jazz up any outfit…That outfit would take you from Croke Park to Quinn’s and even onto Coppers afterwards if you’re going Out Out’
Aisling is the quintessential girl from the country doing the daily commute to Dublin for work. She loves nothing better than meeting up with her boyfriend John, a local GAA fella from home, who now lives in Dublin. They’ve been together for years and as far as Aisling is concerned their lives are mapped out. They will get married in time and build the big house. They will immerse themselves in the village life at home and continue supporting their local clubs. For Aisling, this is all she ever wanted. She loves going out on the town in Dublin getting absolutely hammered on a week night,but in her mind this is all just a bit of fun before she settles down at home in Ballygobbard with John.
What Aisling hadn’t bargained for though, was that John might have a different dream. With no engagement ring forthcoming Aisling suggests a trip abroad in the hope that John might seize the opportunity and propose. But life has a way of throwing a curve ball and Aisling soon realises that her map is about to change.
‘I can’t help myself. Ever since we booked the holiday, I’ve just had the strongest feeling something life-changing was going to happen while we were here. Intuition, or whatever you want to call it. But now that we’re on the beach, watching the sun rise on day two, I’m suddenly a bag of nerves.’
Aisling soon finds herself moving into new and very glamorous accommodation with Sadhbh and Elaine in Dublin city centre. These two girls take Aisling under their wing showing her a different side to life, an almost hedonistic lifestyle, that, in fairness to Aisling, she takes in her stride. On a trip to Berlin, Aisling is like the Mammy of the group, somewhat in shock with the behaviour of the girls, yet protective. She embraces this new life, leaving her old friend from home, Majella, a little unsure of where their relationship stands. Majella is now a teacher in Dublin but is as mad as a hatter. A night on the tiles with Majella would have many of us hospitalised!!!
With the help of friends, both new and old, Aisling takes stock of her life. She now sees a different future for herself and chooses to embrace the change.
The thing about Aisling is, that while the authors may over embellish somewhat certain aspects of Aisling’s personality, it is easy to see that there is an Aisling in many of us!! I am from ‘down the country’, and although I live in a city, a city that we Cork folk like to call ‘The Real Capital’ or ‘The Peoples Republic of Cork’, I was still a country girl when I first moved to Dublin many years ago. I recall being asked questions about the public transport in Cork and…did we have double-decker buses down there!! There was a general consensus from my work colleagues that I was ‘country’. I so get the image on the cover and Aisling’s reference to the BT (Brown Thomas) carrier bag with her shoes in it. I have done it!! Sure they’re a gorgeous bag, a statement really. Brilliantly depicted 🙂
OMGWACA will raise heckles with some for the stereotyping of the main character, but I think as a reader you need to look beyond this and just see the humour in Aisling’s thoughts and behaviour. There is an obvious need for a book like this in our society today which shows how it’s ok to make fun of ourselves and see the lighthearted side to life. Holding it’s position at #1 in the book charts is a clear indication to me that people need more laughter in life and if OMGWACA provides this, then I say bring it on!!
Much of the wit and humour of the book is laden with Irish inflections and characteristics, but this does not imply that it is a book only for Irish readers.
Oh My God What A Complete Aisling is like sitting down with a buddy chatting over a couple of beers and having a laugh. It’s pure entertainment with moments of heartbreak and sadness thrown in. Is it a literary novel? No. Does it claim to be a literary novel? No. This is a book that will propel you out of your daily humdrum and introduce you to a lovely country girl with a warm heart and a fabulous sense of humour. It is a book that will draw tears from your eyes, but mainly from the laugh out loud moments as you follow Aisling on her rocky journey through her twenties. We’ve all done it lads……just some with more style than others…..
Funny. Charming. Enjoyable. Refreshing.
Purchase Link ~ Oh My God What A Complete Aisling
Meet the Authors:Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are Aislings. Maybe not complete Aislings but about 42%. The Aisling character was conceived in their Stoneybatter sitting room in 2008, when they began to observe the many traits, characteristics and quirks of a very particular type of Irish girl; one they identified around them and one they identified with.
Emer McLysaght is the former editor of The Daily Edge and has worked extensively in journalism and radio.
Sarah Breen is a journalist whose work has appeared in Stellar, Image, U, the Irish Independent and The Gloss.
Facebook ~ Oh my god what a complete Aisling