As always, but especially during lockdown, it was a pure joy to return to the beloved ‘Aisling’ series for the third time, with ‘Once, Twice, Three times an Aisling’ by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen.
Reading about Aisling and all of her shenanigans is like sitting down with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and hearing all the juicy gossip. Aisling is your typical twenty-something year old Irish culchie, going through the ever surprising motions of life. She’s an inspirational girl boss who isn’t afraid to go for what she wants and will settle for nothing less. The situations she finds herself in will have you simultaneously cry-laughing, painfully cringing and fondly relating. From man woes, to career changes and family drama, she really does have it all!
The third instalment of this series follows Aisling as she approaches a big birthday milestone, the big three-oh —thirty, flirty and frazzled? Just when she should finally be feeling all grown-up, she’s floundering. Now is not the time for a delicious new man to show up, her best friend to demand the hen do of the century and a surprise celebrity appearance. However, always the people-pleaser, Aisling simply rolls up her sleeves and takes it in her stride — but at what cost?
Every time I dive into one of these books, it’s as if I’m being welcomed home. I (reluctantly) see a lot of myself in Aisling, and in every other character in this book for that matter. Everyone has a mad bestie like Maj and a vegan friend like Sadhbh, am I right? Not to mention Aisling’s mam who so greatly epitomises everything which is so wonderfully iconic and brilliant about the classic ‘Irish Mammy’.
The writers, McLysaght and Breen, have really nailed what it’s like to grow up and live in a rural, small town in Ireland, and the vast contrast to Dublin and city life. While the same-old phrases and mentions of counting the weight watchers points and hiding the ‘good biscuits’ did feel a tad stale at this stage, there were still plenty of new Irishisms brought into the story which you don’t even realise exist until they’re laid out in front of you.
It was also really refreshing to see Aisling with a new man on her arm, and who could be more of a delightful contrast from commitment-phobe John, than the hunky blow-in, James Matthews! Taking Aisling out of her comfort zone of Ballygobbard and dumping her in James’ lavish family estate in England was a real treat to behold.
I loved that Aisling was finally confronted about her fatphobia too, and that this subject was dealt with in such an open and honest way, without becoming a major plot-point. Because fatphobia is such an ingrained part of society, we don’t always see when others are being fatphobic until it’s brought to light, which is why this particular scene was so important. Hopefully this topic continues to be talked about again in the last two books of this 5 book series.
Of the three books published so far in this series, I would say that this one was my second favourite. It had a lot more going on than the first one, making it a really nicely paced book with a good amount of plot and story-line, but not as upbeat as the second one, lacking in feel-good moments. Either way though, I would highly recommend ‘Once, Twice, Three times an Aisling’ to anyone who’s in the mood for a fun chick-lit featuring strong female friendships and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.
The book was published by Gill, and you can pick up a copy here.
Want to check out more of my reading recommendations? Have a look at my Romance Reads for your Summer Staycation blog post.