Cecelia Ahearn's Rosie Dunne
is the amusing story of Alex and Rosie, best friends who grow up together in Ireland and stay close throughout cross-continental moves, marriages, parenthood, family dramas. and professional triumphs. Friends for close to 50 years, the potential for romance between the pair is always under the surface, yet never seems to find the right time or place to become a reality.
Twenty-three year old Ahern, whose debut novel, PS, I Love You, was a modest hit with critics and readers alike, does not deviate much from the witty yet sentimental style she seems to naturally posses. Rosie Dunne is written through a series of notes, letters, IMs, e-mails, and text messages between the two protagonists and their various friends and family members. While this style is engaging at first, readers may eventually long for more substantial dialogue and fewer choppy exchanges. In fact, about halfway into the story, some may even feel the urge to skip ahead to what is almost an inevitable conclusion. However, the addition of entertaining secondary characters (such as Rosie's best friend Ruby and her overweight, yet oddly talented, salsa-dancing son) help keep the momentum going through one-to-many near misses between Rosie and Alex.
Overall, Rosie Dunne is a touching look at what happens when "the one" always seems to be just a tad bit out of reach. Still, one can't help wondering if this novel may have been better suited to a short but sweet episode of a half-hour sitcom. --Gisele Toueg
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From Publishers Weekly
Ahern (PS, I Love You
) uses letters, notes, e-mails and instant messages to narrate her poignant second novel about thwarted love and missed opportunities. Plucky Rosie Dunne is infatuated with her best friend since childhood, Alex Stewart, but Alex has always been oblivious. After he moves from Ireland to the U.S. with his family, the two keep in touch, planning to reunite—first at Rosie's prom and, later, at college. But Rosie has the kind of bad luck you see in the movies: Alex's plane is delayed, and so Rosie attends the prom with "Brian the Whine," who promptly knocks her up. Rosie decides to have the baby, thereby missing her opportunity to study hotel management at Boston College and hang out with Harvard-bound Alex. At this point—which isn't very far in—the novel begins to suffer from an overfull mailbox. It seems that everyone in Rosie's life sends her (and each other) missives, and this flood of mail weighs the novel down as the years pass. Rosie Dunne is a worthy protagonist, complex enough to be compelling and ordinary enough to be believable. But Rosie and Alex's early, futile get-together attempts are summarized too quickly to be satisfying, and the letters between Rosie's now adolescent daughter, Katie, and her best friend, a boy named Toby, are too obviously reminiscent of Rosie's childhood correspondence with Alex. Implausibility rears its head again when characters sum up their lives in overly serious, long-winded paragraphs foreign to the chatty, impromptu format of e-mail. But the novel endears despite its flaws, thanks to Rosie and our endless appetite for stories of love finally requited. (Feb. 9)
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