Book review

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern, Book Review

Lyrebird, ever since I saw advance copies on Social Media of this book I wanted to read it. Why! Because the cover simply called out to me, it is beautiful and the story inside is nothing short of magic for me. So I was excited when I got a copy in mail and didn’t waste time finding time to read it. The book released last week in UK and the paperback will be available in Indian stores mid November 2016. But it’s available on Kindle India for immediate download and I hope you pick it up ASAP especially if you are a Cecelia Ahern fan. 

Lyrebird

Book

Title: Lyrebird

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: November 2016

Format reviewed: Paperback

Rating: 5/5

Time period: Contemporary

City(s) based in: Dublin, CO. Cork – Ireland. 

Profession of main characters: Talent show participant and Sound recordist.

Story

Life is in two parts: who you were before you met her and who you are after. 

Down in the south west of Ireland, rugged mountains meet bright blue lakes and thick forests. Deep in the woods, surrounded by farmland, a young woman lives alone in a small stone cottage. 

Then, into her peaceful landscape comes a documentary crew. Solomon’s skill is sound. He records, he listens, he hears. And when he meets Laura, he discovers that she has an extraordinary talent: an ability to mimic sounds. It’s a gift that earns her the nickname Lyrebird. 

From that point, Laura’s life is turned on its head. When the documentary crew offers her a way forward, a bridge to another kind of life, she takes it. But while Solomon knows the world will love Laura, will it free her to spread her wings – or will it trap her in a gilded cage? Like all wild birds, she needs to fly free… 

Lyrebird is a thoughtful, deeply moving love story; a story of the wild heart in us all and the quiet that lies underneath the world’s noise. 

My thoughts

Lyrebird: an Australian native bird who has the ability to mimick sounds it hears. A quick Google search will give you all the necessary details about the bird. However, for a better understanding read this story and you will most definitely want to fly to Australia to catch a glimpse of Lyrebird live in action. Per Wikipedia ⏬


Here’s what the bird looks like, images via Google search.


What’s the bird got to do with the story besides it’s obvious title? Read on to know more. 
The tag line of the story is She will change your life forever. There will be your life before you knew her and the one after knowing her. Because everything changes, for the characters, once they’ve met the Lyrebird

For me the essence of this magical story is Love and Fidelity. Few animals, birds are known to mate for life with one partner. The simple, straightforward manner in which the author has portrayed this in the story via the lead pair Laura and Solomon is Art. I kept feeling like I was witnessing a painting or installation of Modern/ Realist art.

In simple words Lyrebird is the story of Laura, 26 years old having lived her life so far in seclusion, interacting with only 3 people in her life. She is forced out of this seclusion when the 3 people she knows are dead. Solomon’s presence in her secluded mountain home and her attraction to him is how she is discovered. Solomon is in the mountains for Laura’s father Tom’s funeral. Joe and Tom Toolin are the twins who live on a remote farm in seclusion and Solomon along with Bo and Rachel made a documentary on them. That’s how Solomon and Laura’s paths intertwined. 

Like Laura, the Toolin twins have spent all their life in seclusion, content in each other’s company and having just the necessary human interaction for survival. Laura like the Lyrebird has the ability to mimic every sound she hears, the story of which is what Bo, the documentary producer, wants to bring to the world. 

Once Bo starts filming the documentary, somewhere along the way she signs Laura up for StarrGaze – Ireland’s talent show. Once the world discovers Laura’s ability and the show busy exploiting it everything changes for Laura, Bo and Solomon. Their world goes in a tailspin till they manage to hold on to something and make it stop from spinning. When the spinning stops like the Lyrebird, Laura’s life has gone through a whole cycle of seasons like the birds. She’s found her mate in Solomon. What keeps Laura going and thriving amidst the utter chaos is her ability to adapt to change. She knows one thing like her father and uncle – it is what it is and there’s only moving on and ahead. Her attitude towards change and her respect for Solomon’s relationship with Bo despite her attraction and need for him is impressive. 

Solomon and Laura both have integrity of character when it came to fidelity; Solomon not cheating on Bo despite chance and temptation is well, an extremely attractive quality. 

How the story is magical? It is the narration, how Cecelia has described every interaction, experience Laura has in comparison with that of how the Lyrebird’s behaviour changes with seasons. Laura’s beauty with white blonde hair, green eyes, tall frame, innocence and vulnerability from living a secluded life atop a mountain surrounded by wilds makes her an other worldly sounding character. 

Solomon is nothing short of a gladiator/caveman sort of with his tall frame, hair in a top knot, always lost in his head and very aware of the sounds around him. He is attracted to Laura and the silent, wordless conversations between them is simple, possible for everyone to have, yet described in manner which makes it utterly mesmerising.  

I’ve been reading reviews of this story and have come across some which say the story got blurry with magic and fiction overlapping. Some couldn’t fully grasp Laura being human yet coming across as supernatural or likewise. Though what appealed to me is the simplicity in the complex situations. I forgot every cliche, kept the doubts away and believed that, well, if tomorrow I heard or read about such a woman on news I would wonder at its beauty. I will keep the naysayers, name callers out of my mind. 

Humans have the capacity to amaze themselves, we never know the extent, limits of human nature. To some readers it may seem like the characters are displaying animal/bird characteristics and just mimicking their traits in human form. They may be right in their place but this story sure amazed me, Cecelia made it absolutely magical. 

Love, fidelity or having one mate for life will be Amusing for some or hold no interest for others. However the initmacy and understanding between Laura and Solomon without actually touching each other romantically is hypnotic. And I fucking loved it. The author reference’s insights on the Lyrebird from Ambrose Pratt’s – the Lore of the Lyrebird for different stages in Laura’s life, these references made me see the beauty and potential of human nature. 

I have only read 2 books by Cecelia, this being the 3rd and what I love about her writing is the intimacy she creates between the lovers in her characters. It’s beautiful, simple and breathtaking, I forget or atleast succeed in keeping life and judgements out of my mind when reading her stories. It is simply seeing 2 people experiencing Love and life which Cecelia makes magical, beautiful and aspirational. 

For those who find the story just a portrayal of how talent, reality television shows exploit humans, that’s how you will see this story. And it’s fine but those looking for a love story with a touch of magic and wild beauty you will see that too in Lyrebird. So whatever you look for, I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did. 

About the Author

Cecelia Ahern was born and grew up in Dublin. She is now published in nearly fifty countries and has sold over twenty five million copies of her novels worldwide. Two of her books have been adapted as films and she has created several TV series. She and her books have won numerous awards, including the Irish Book Award for Popular Fiction for The Year I Met You. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Connect with Cecelia via her Website | Twitter

Reviewed by Bharti

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