Caragh is giving Jilly sleepless nights

January 18th, 2020 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

Daily Telegraph Features Author Jilly Cooper photographed at home Bisley 5 December 2011

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WORLD famous novelist Jilly Cooper has given a massive thumbs up to Skibbereen writer Caragh Bell’s latest book.

Caragh wrote to Jilly, known for titles including Polo, Mount and Riders among countless others, some time back and the pair struck up a friendship.

So much so that Jilly endorsed Caragh’s novel, Gabriella by saying: ‘I read until 2.30am last night with so much joy.’

This is the secondary school teacher’s fifth book, and is due to hit shelves at the start of March.

‘It’s a love story about a young girl called Gabriella from the Bronx in New York who wants to make it in the fashion world and who gets a lucky break. It’s about a fight for the American dream and will, I think, appeal to everyone,’ said Caragh.

She described it as a bit of ‘escapism in a world that can be so gloomy.’

That’s how she classes all her work: ‘It’s light, funny, it doesn’t require that much brain power. It’s all very well to say you like James Joyce but you’re not going to read that by the pool! People get to switch off with this. I like creating worlds that people can escape into,’ she said.

Caragh wrote the book back in 2018 when she was on maternity leave with her fifth child, Feidhlim, now aged two.

Her eldest child is 18 so her household is a busy one, but impressively she’s already written the first draft of her sixth book which will be out ‘21/’22.

She credits Ludgate, and their hot desks, as ‘saving her life’ last Summer as it gave her a place to get that finished.

‘I’d work there for three to four hours in the morning and I’m going to dedicate the book to them,’ she said.

A teacher of French and English in Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, she has no plans to become a full time writer: ‘I’ve five children,’ she joked.

But she is planning on a London book launch for Gabriella, in response to her growing reader base.

She had always been a big fan of Jilly Cooper, now in her 80s, and wrote to her expressing her admiration.

‘She’s been really supportive to me; a real lady,’ said Caragh.

Has she inspired any racy scenes that Jilly’s infamous for?

‘There are steamy scenes – but nothing in that league!’ insists Caragh.

• Gabriella will be published by Poolbeg on March 1st.

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