Cecelia Ahern Returns with a Long-Awaited 'Postscript'

Posted by Cybil on February 1, 2020
Cecelia Ahern
It’s been 16 years since Cecelia Ahern’s blockbuster debut, P.S. I Love You, gripped readers around the world with the story of young widow Holly Kennedy and the ten letters her late husband, Gerry, leaves for her to discover after his death.

Now Ahern has done what she swore she would never do: write a sequel to the book that made her name.
 
In Postscript, seven years have passed since Gerry’s death. Ostensibly Holly, now 37, is doing well. She has a job and a new boyfriend. But after she participates in a podcast about grief, Holly is approached by a group of terminally ill people who have been inspired by Gerry’s letters and want to leave their own messages behind for loved ones, the P.S. I Love You Club.

Holly fears getting involved with the group will plunge her back into the pain and grief she worked so hard to leave behind. But as she starts to meet the group’s members, Holly embarks on a new, wholly unexpected journey that challenges her beliefs about her past, her present, and future.
 
Dublin-based Ahern, who writes a novel a year and has sold more than 25 million copies of her books in nearly 50 countries, tells Goodreads why it was time for her to revisit Holly’s story, describes the emotional writing process, and discusses how Hilary Swank, who played Holly in the 2007 movie P.S. I Love You, could reprise her role if a film of Postscript is made.
 
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Goodreads: You said you’d never write a sequel to P.S. I Love You. What changed? When did you first think of writing a sequel?

Cecelia Ahern: I had always said that I would never write the sequel, for three reasons. Firstly, I’d brought Holly to a place that I was satisfied with, I had nothing more to say, and nowhere else to bring her, and as I’m someone who always follows the story because that is the most important thing, there was no story to write. Secondly, P.S. was such a huge success, I felt it was better to leave it alone and not risk potentially ruining what so many hold dear to them. And thirdly, I have spent the past 17 years telling new stories about new characters, wildly different to P.S. I Love You, and have enjoyed the freedom of that.

However in 2012, I had my second child and I was changing my will, adding guardianship, and it struck me, the everyday things that people do for the people they will be leaving behind. I had to deal with grief and those who are left behind in P.S. I Love You, but I wanted to explore what it is like to know that your time is running out and what are the things you do, the actions you take, the decisions you make to prepare yourself and others for your death.
 
It automatically felt like a sequel to P.S. I Love You. It was important to me that Postscript be strong enough to be a standalone novel, too, and not just ride on the coattails of P.S., so since 2012 I’ve been secretly plotting and planning, writing for myself to see if it would work, and testing it out. As soon as I wrote the first chapter, the tears flowed and I knew that I could do this. My stubbornness disappeared, and I became excited about the new challenge of revisiting a character that I created 17 years ago.

GR: Where and how is Holly at the start of Postscript, and how has she changed?
 
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CA: It’s been seven years since Gerry’s death and six years since Holly read his last letter. She has moved on, found a new job, fallen in love, put her house up for sale; she really has pieced together a new life and is in a positive place. After speaking about her experience with Gerry in a podcast with her sister, she’s approached by a group who call themselves the P.S I Love You Club. They’ve all been inspired by her story and the letters Gerry left for her before his death.

They, too, are terminally ill, or have life-threatening conditions, and ask Holly to help them write their letters for their loved ones. By spending time with the group and trying to get to know their personal situations in order to curate the perfect letters, Holly finds herself in the unusual position of having to look at it all from Gerry’s perspective.

I wanted to flip Holly’s experience so she is now in Gerry’s position, helping to write letters for others. In order to give the P.S. I Love You Club a positive experience, she needs to analyze her own. Was it all entirely positive? Would she change anything? She’s forced to look at the letters Gerry left for her in a new way, the reasons why he wrote them, what they really meant, and she examines if they were the right letters for her–did they help her or hold her back?
 
She gets sucked back into the past again, back into her memories of Gerry and the year following his death, and she struggles with managing the past and her present. I also wanted to bring Gerry back by adding new memories of their relationship, which explain why he left particular letters for her and go more into who they were as a couple. And most importantly it’s about who Holly is now. Hopefully this story will bring more tears and more smiles.

GR: What did it feel like to be writing about Holly and the other characters who made your career after all this time?

CA: It was such an emotional journey writing the story, not just because of the subject matter but because P.S. changed my life and represents a very important time, so I wrote almost every word with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It was a very interesting emotional challenge. I just hope people feel the emotion as much as I felt it when writing it.

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GR: You wrote P.S. I Love You when you were 21. How did the writing processes for each book compare? You’ve said Postscript was the hardest book you’ve written and a very emotional experience. Why was that?

CA: I’m always looking for a challenge with each new novel I write, and I think writing this sequel was the greatest challenge of all. I had to reread P.S. and reacquaint myself with the characters. I had to remind myself I was writing the sequel to the book and not the film. I had to almost look for holes in my story, I had to find the gaps and spaces where there was room to grow. It felt like a study of my own work. I also had to take a character I had written at 21 years old, 17 years ago, and bring her back to life as the writer I am now. I had to decide which characters to continue with and who to lose.

Holly and her friends and family, of course, have evolved, too, over the past six years, and so I had to look at who they are now and what has happened in their lives over the past six years. It was important that I capture the tone of P.S. I Love You so that it’s familiar and in tune with the book, but also take it forward and create something new.

GR: Tell us about the movie adaptation. Is it true Hilary Swank will reprise her role as Holly?

CA: As soon as I announced the Postscript news, Hilary Swank contacted me and asked if she could read the novel and offered support. She’s wonderful.
 
Thankfully she loved where I brought the story, and I’d be delighted if she would reprise her role, as she is the heart of the film. I adore her and loved how she brought Holly to life in P.S. I Love You, so watch this space.

GR: Do you and your husband have any Valentine’s Day traditions?

CA: Last year we went to see the Martin McDonagh play The Cripple of Inishmaan, and this year we’re going to see Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, so perhaps we’ve created a new tradition. 

GR: What are some books you’ve read recently and loved or can’t wait to read.

CA: I’ve just had a baby and haven’t managed to read a book for a ridiculously long time, and my TBR pile is actually two large, looming boxes of books. However, I’ve just started reading my very favorite character Jack Reacher in Blue Moon, and it’s just what I need. Lee Child is one of my favorite authors.


 

Cecelia Ahern's Postscript will be available in the U.S. on February 11. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf. Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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message 1: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Liddle A truly amazing author. PS was the most moving book I’ve ever read and not my normal go to.
There are very few things in life worth waiting for but Postscript 100% is. Rushed to buy it on release day in the UK and genuinely had to force myself to take breaks so that it wasn’t over as quickly.
My absolute favourite read of 2019 and for years.


message 2: by Katie (new)

Katie I loved ps I love you. Couldn’t believe it when they announced a sequel and eagerly awaited its release. I was not disappointed by it at all. I fell in love all over again and shed a fair amount of tears again too!


message 3: by Ting (new)

Ting Pimentel-Elger I love, love PS I love you the book as well as Hillary Swank in the movie! And of course Cecilia Ahern's novels! Can't wait to read this book- hopefully I won't be number 100 in my library hold! :)


message 4: by Kendra (new)

Kendra Ayers I can’t wait for this sequel. I always wanted Holly to feel like she could live without Gerry and still love him. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes her!


message 5: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Darrow Cecelia is one of my favorites! This book has been on my calendar...so looking forward to reading it! She never disappoints!


message 6: by Stefanie (new)

Stefanie Szewczyk This has been my favourite book since I read it all those years ago. Can’t wait for Postscript!


message 7: by Audrey (new)

Audrey P.S. I Love You is one of my favourite books, so I'm looking forward to reading Postscript. :)


message 8: by Verónica (new)

Verónica Ruggerio I love Cecelia! I can't wait to read Postscript. So I started to reread P.S I Love You, to calm anxiety.


message 9: by Mara (last edited Feb 08, 2020 01:17PM) (new)

Mara Pemberton There have been very few books that have grabbed my heart, as much as P. S. I LOVE YOU did 15 or so years ago got it from the mu=y local library.

I had been a widow for a few years and knew how Holly felt about losing Gerry, and feeling as though her life had just ended.

It's still one of my all-time favorite books.

I look forward to POSTSCRIPT and listening to how Holly, family, and friends have changed and grown over the years.

To be honest, I was not a fan of the movie.


message 10: by Mary Geraghty (new)

Mary Geraghty Read postscript, as brilliant as p.s. hopefully the film will follow


message 11: by Doris (new)

Doris Mar Siempre lo digo y lo diré Cecelia Ahern, es una de mis escritoras favoritas. Me encantan casi todos sus libros, ya concluí el libro. Me gustó pero no fue tan acertado para mí, aún así en alguno momentos me hizo suspirar, enamorar, llorar.


message 12: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Looking forward to your new book as p.s. I Love You has a special place in my heart it was a favorite of my daughter (she went to heaven in 2009 after a car accident) after that her best friend found some comfort too from the book and the movie. 💗


message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie I also loved the book and the movie and have read some of your other books and love them!! Especially The Book of Tomorrows!


message 14: by Jen (new)

Jen I'm waiting for the first quiet Sunday or long journey to sink into this one. I loved Flawed and Perfect also and Where Rainbows End


message 15: by Krissy (new)

Krissy Looking forward to the new book and even more excited that you read the Jack Reacher novels. :) I just started the series this past year and am flying through them.


message 16: by Kozmokitap (new)

Kozmokitap P.S. I Love You hem kitabı hem de filmini çok sevdim . Yazarın kalemini beğeniyorum . Postscript'i de okumak için sabırsızlanıyorum.


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