Good eggs

‘Joyous, exuberantly fun-filled’

"Good Eggs" is Rebecca Hardiman's debut novel.

Page Turner / Edited by Peter McDermott

“Millie assembles her most authentic aw-shucks grin, hoping to emit the picture of a hapless, harmless granny. But her body betrays her: her face boils; pricks of perspiration collect at her hairline. This is the sorry tale of all the oldies, the body incongruent with the still sharp mind— tumors sprouting, bones snapping with a mere slip on ice, a heart just giving up one day, like her Peter’s.”

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Millie is Millie Gogarty, “an elderly and lonely eccentric,” says former magazine editor Rebecca Hardiman, and the lead character in her novel “Good Eggs,” which she describes as an “irreverent romp that follows three generations of a boisterous Irish family living in modern-day Dublin.”

Kevin, her stepson, gets the difficult news, via a phone call from Sergeant O’Connor, while he’s sitting having a pint with a friend in a city center pub.

He tells his pal, “My mother just got picked up for shoplifting. She’s in with the guards driving them all, no doubt, to the brink of mass suicide. Jim Jones, was it? He had nothing on Millie Gogarty.”

For Millie, “stepson” is a technical term, “though she shuns all things technical and, more to the point, he’s been her boy and she his mum since his age was still measured in mere months.”

Either way, he has his hands full.

Hardiman added, “Kevin's rebellious teenager gets sent to boarding school and an American woman is hired to help look after Millie. Chaos, and a madcap caper, ensue…”

"Good Eggs,” said fellow author Jonathan Evison, “is a remarkably clear-eyed and surefooted debut; pure, unadulterated reading pleasure. Hardiman writes with great warmth, humor, and incisiveness about reinvention and the unique foibles of family.”

While another, Sarah Haywood, said, “'Good Eggs’ is a joyous, exuberantly fun-filled novel of second chances.”

A starred review in Booklist commented that the “sprightly plot is deepened by explorations of the human condition.”

Rebecca Hardiman

Date of birth: Dec. 28, 1971

Place of birth: Rome, Italy

Spouse: Alex Hardiman

Children: Three boys, ages 16, 16, 13

Residence: New Jersey

Published works: This is my first book. I've written for various publications including Variety and Movieline.

What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?

When I started writing the book on and off over the course of many years, my children were still really young. The conditions, in other words, were not ideal. I'd bring my laptop with me and work whenever and wherever I could--an hour at the local coffee shop, some nights at the kitchen table, in my car at the lacrosse field parking lot. These days, my kids are older and I'm more disciplined. I usually write in the morning at my desk, jazz or classic music on the radio (so I can't sing along).

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read and write. And persevere. You have to have confidence, blind faith really, in your project, even as it seems utterly preposterous.

Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.

“Leave The World Behind” by Rumaan Alam, “Deacon King Kong” by James McBridge, “Writers & Lovers” by Lily King.

What book are you currently reading?

I'm usually listening to one and reading another. I just finished listening to “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson. Wow. Another recent audiobook favorite was “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe about the Troubles in Belfast. Right now, I'm reading “The Push” by Ashley Audrain, a gripping thriller. Next on my list is Gabriel Byrne's autobiography, “Walking With Ghosts.”

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Not just one! I wish I'd written “Room” by Emma Donoghue or Nutshell by Ian McEwan not only because the points of view in both are so clever, but also they're just so good. Nutshell is wild and very funny and dark and “Room” is an amazing feat of imagination. Or “Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson--outrageously funny and moving at the same time.

Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.

I remember being surprised by the cover of “The Good House” by Ann Leary which features a nice, sunny, yellow suburban house. But what's going on in that house! Makes you wonder what's going on in all the houses...

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?

David Sedaris. Or Roddy Doyle. Preferably over pints in a pub on the Northside.

What book changed your life?

“The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4” by Sue Townsend. It was the first really funny book I probably read as a kid. Adrian's life is hilariously chaotic--he's a wannabe intellectual pining after the great beauty, Pandora, and his parents are a hot mess and his grandmother is very stern and his best friend is an old-age pensioner who eats beetroot sandwiches in bed. I don't know how many times I've read it, and some of the others that followed, but it never fails to make me laugh.

What is your favorite spot in Ireland?

My old friend's cozy kitchen in Dublin. She's just made us mugs of tea and rasher sandwiches and we have loads to discuss.

You're Irish if…

you cheerfully ignore the barmen when they call, "It's time, ladies and gents!" In fact, you're having such a good chat, you line up one more round.