Sister Agatha by Domhnall O' Donoghue

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Sister Agatha is a colossal 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. During a routine check-up, however, her doctor claims she has just a week to live, news that proves to be quite inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister has one ambition in life: to be the oldest person in the world. At last count, she was the fifth. However, never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Dusting off her passport, she decides to leave Irish shores for the first time in her very long life, and using the few days remaining, plans to travel across three continents and meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers. And then, one by one, she intends on killing them.

I first heard about the book Sister Agatha while attending the launch/opening night of the New Blackbird Books, now located within The Solstice Arts Centre in Navan, Co. Meath, which coincidentally is where Sister Agatha’s story begins. The description I heard, like the one you read above, had me intrigued straight away and I knew I wanted to read this book–and by gosh, I’m glad I did! It’s not everyday you come across a book about a 118 year old nun who wants to trek the globe to become the world’s oldest person. I found myself hooked to the story from page one all the way through to page 201, to the point where there were times were I actually had to pull myself away from the book just so I wouldn’t be late for work. The book is very cleverly written with plenty of twists and turns throughout, and very witty, if I do say so myself.

I must admit that I may be a bit biased in recommending this book, considering it’s partly located in the town in which I am currently residing, but apart from that I would hope that wouldn’t deter you from going out and trying this book. The humour reminded me in places very much of that of Mrs. Brown’s Boy’s, an Irish TV sit-com and also I couldn’t help but be reminded of The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. A friend of mine is currently reading this book, and after I described the blurb to her, she also noted that it wasn’t completely unlike it, yet I must disagree. While it has the similarity that the two book’s protagonists are of similar age, the stories vary completely.

I think my favourite aspect to this book was the humour that could be created by sending a 118 year old nun on a world-wide killing spree. It’s not everyday that you get to read a book like this, and it’s not everyday that you get to have a giggle while doing so. I loved all the back-stories into all the different characters we met in all the different countries, and how interesting their lives seemed–to the point where there could almost be a book in each of them characters themselves, and I loved how it was nothing to Sister Agatha to just take-off and go on this potentially one-last mission for fear her life will be all for nothing if she doesn’t do this. Another favourite of mine was a quote used towards the end:

Milk has an expiry date, but life isn’t milk.

There was one thing that I did have to disagree with, and unfortunately I can’t divulge that information to you unless you read the book yourself. I’m all about the “no-spoilers”, so I can’t actually tell you the one little itty-bitty thing that I didn’t like. If you do read this book/have read the book, feel free to get in touch via the contact form, and we can have a chat about the book without spoiling it for everyone else. Apart from that, there’s very little I can complain about, other than: is it physically possible for a 118 year old nun to visit so many locations in the space of less than a week, and still be standing at the end of it all?!?

Domhnall and I at his book launch!

Never-the-less, this was a thoroughly enjoying read, and I’d give anything to be able to read it again without knowing how everything was going to play out. I was lucky to be able to attend the launch of Sister Agatha, and also got to meet the author, Domhnall O’Donoghue himself, which I am very grateful for. It was a pleasure to meet him, and he’s such a kind soul and wish him nothing but all the best with this book and his future books. I can’t help but remember, while at the launch that numerous people mentioned that Sister Agatha would make for a great movie, and I can’t help but agree with them–I would seriously love to see this adapted for the big screen. The only question then would be: who would play Sister Agatha?!? 😉

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