This week: a tongue-in-cheek thriller about dead husbands

This week there’s a tongue-in-cheek thriller based on fractured family relations, and a book about handling anxious kids. There’s also a revolutionary self-help book that turns other self-help books on their heads and there’s a ‘long lost’ posthumously published novella, written by an author hailed as a genius worldwide, that’s been met with a mountain of controversy.

Anxious Children in an Anxious World, Mary O’Kane, €14.99

With a subtitle of ‘Facing Fears and Finding Brave’, Dr Mary O’Kane addresses, in her second book on child development, the issue of anxiety in young children. The book contains practical advice for parents to gently push their children’s limits and to build their confidence, while also providing insight into the important role adults play. The goal is not to rid our children of anxiety. Instead, this book will introduce you to ways your child can learn to live with their fearful thoughts and find healthy ways to cope.

Irish parents will be familiar with Mary’s voice and face from radio and television, including both the Anton Savage show on NewsTalk and Alison Curtis show on Today FM, and from speaking to Tommy Bowe and Karen Koster on the Ireland AM sofa.

The Best Way to Bury Your Husband, Alexia Casale, Viking, €15.99

Casale took the very real and horrific escalation of domestic violence during Covid lockdowns as the springboard for her debut novel. And while it’s not terribly believable that four women in one neighbourhood would each have the bother of a husband’s corpse to dispose of, after killing the b*stards off (and rightly so!), it’s a comic adventure in handling the spoils of sweet revenge.

Central to the plot is Sally, who accidentally brains her wife-beating husband with a single bash of her cast-iron frying pan. As she watches his seeping blood stain the kitchen tiles, she eats a large slice of cake to calm herself down. Less than a mile away, Samira is resisting her violent husband’s insistence on their teenage daughter’s arranged marriage to a stranger, in what the husband maintains is Islamic law. But the daughter is suicidal and Samira’s afraid he’ll beat her up, just like he does Samira herself. Sure lookit, he has to go. It just takes a spot of poisoning in his case. And there are two other women nearby, all facing the same problem; what to do with their violent husbands’ dead bodies.

Casale uses black comedy to highlight a profoundly serious issue here, and it’s in her characterisations of these four heroines, along with her depictions of their experiences at the hands of their neanderthal spouses, that has the reader cheering the four new friends on as they cope with their… um… waste disposal issues.

The Science of Happiness, Bruce Hood,Simon and Schuster, €16.99

The self-help industry has been a multi-billion-dollar mammoth for decades. Everyone wants to know how to boost their self-esteem, know their self-worth, hold themselves in healthy self-regard, boost their self-image. The common denominator in all self-help books is, of course, self. Self, self, self, boring self. Professor Bruce Hood is having none of it, and in this maverick book he declares – with oodles of measurable, scientifically researched results backing him up – that the only way to help yourself is to help others. Or at least that the path to a positive relationship with self is wrought only through estimable, positive interaction with other ornery human beans.

It’s not so revolutionary when you consider that all of the major world religions have been preaching it since Adam was in short trousers, but maybe it’s an indication of how very lost we’ve become that we’ve rejected these ancient tenets of wisdom in favour of ‘discovering’ and ‘knowing’ ourselves, hoping this knowledge will somehow mend us.

We’re pack animals, after all. We don’t do well as loners. Nor do we thrive as self-obsessed navel-gazers, it transpires. The age of ‘I’m worth it’ individualism rings ever more hollow as you read the results of this psychiatrist’s years of scientific research. We should stop gazing at the man in mirror, he proposes, and look instead to our fellow man. Collectivism, as opposed to individualism, is the thrust of his argument. But we need training to de-programme ourselves, which is why he wrote this manual. And a breath of fresh air it is, too.

Until August, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Viking, €18.99

The press worldwide has swiftly confounded this new publication to hell, and they’re baying for the blood of Garcia Marquez’s two sons, who published this ‘rubbish’ 10 years after his death and who should, they insist, be held accountable. And it’s not great, to be honest, when one considers it’s from the man who wrote such masterpieces as A Hundred Years of Solitude, or Love in the Time of Cholera, among others. But it’s not as bad as the ‘lit crits’ (literary critics, aka book reviewers!) say it is. And the author was already suffering from dementia when he started it.

Ana Magdalena Bach (a name borrowed from JS Bach’s second wife) visits a Caribbean island every August to place some gladioli on her mother’s grave and also to have a one-night stand with some random stranger before returning home to her husband and family. These annual trips eventually expose some harsh truths for Ana Magdelena, finally prompting her to make an unusual decision involving her dead mother. Garcia Marquez’s two sons offer an apologia in their introduction, admitting it seems like a ‘betrayal’ of their father. And it really is no fitting final testament. So what was their impetus for publishing a novella that the author himself made his sons swear not to publish? Hmm… I simply can’t imagine…


If you’re not going to Galway for the Cúirt Festival towards the end of this month, then you might be interested in heading off in that direction early next month for the Galway Theatre Festival, running on May 3-11. See for details.

The Waterford Festival of Food is one of the first food-themed festivals taking place this year, on April 19-21. There are more than 80 events taking place in Dungarvan and surrounding areas, featuring taste tours, kitchen talks, chef dining, sustainability workshops, foraging walks, and a large outdoor market.