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The courageous and poetic narrative of a great fiction writer's life, seen from the vantage point of eight decades.In 1960, Edna O'Brien published The Country Girls, her first novel, which so scandalized the O'Briens' local parish that the book was burned by its priest. O'Brien, married with two sons, was undeterred and has since created a body of work that bears comparison with the best writing of the twentieth century. Country Girl brings us face to face with a life of high drama and contemplation. It is a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that imprint upon and enliven one lifetime.Starting with O'Brien's birth in a grand but deteriorating house in Ireland, her story moves through convent school to elopement, divorce, single-motherhood, the wild parties of the '60s in London, and encounters with Hollywood giants, pop stars, and literary titans. There is love and unrequited love, and the glamour of trips to America as an acclaimed writer hosted by Jackie Onassis and Hillary Clinton. Brilliant and sensuous, Country Girl is a book we are fortunate that Edna O'Brien decided to write.
In this contemporary story with universal resonance, Edna O'Brien delves deep into the intense relationship that exists between a mother and daughter who long for closeness yet remain eternally at odds. From her hospital bed in Dublin, the ailing Dilly Macready eagerly awaits a visit from her long-estranged daughter, Eleanora. Years before, Eleanora fled Ireland for London when her sensuous first novel caused a local scandal. Eleanora's peripatetic life since then has brought international fame but personal heartbreak in her failed quest for love. Always, her mother beseeches her to return home, sending letters that are priceless in their mix of love, guilt, and recrimination. For all her disapproval, Dilly herself knows something of Eleanora's need for freedom: as a young woman in the 1920s, Dilly left Ireland for a new life in New York City. O'Brien's marvelous cinematic portrait of New York in that era is a tour-de-force, filled with the clang and clatter of the city, the camaraderie of the working girls against their callous employers, and their fierce competition over handsome young men. But a lover's betrayal sent Dilly reeling back to Ireland to raise a family on a lovely old farm named Rusheen. It is Rusheen that still holds mother and daughter together. Yet Eleanora's visit to her mother's sickbed does not prove to be the glad reunion that Dilly prayed for. And in her hasty departure, Eleanora leaves behind a secret journal of their stormy relationship -- a revelation that brings the novel to a shocking close.Brimming with the lyricism and earthy insight that are the hallmarks of Edna O'Brien's acclaimed fiction, The Light of Evening is a novel of dreams and attachments, lamentations and betrayals. At its core is the realization that the bond between mother and child is unbreakable, stronger even than death.
A PAGAN PLACE is Edna O'Brien's true novel of Ireland. Here she returns to that uniquely wonderful, terrible, peculiar place she once called home and writes not only of a life there--of the child becoming a woman--but of the Irish experience out of which that life arises--perhaps more pointedly than in any of her other works. This is the Ireland of country villages and barley fields, of druids in the woods, of unknown babies in the womb, of mischievous girls and Tans with guns. Ireland has marked Edna O'Brien's life and work with unmistakable color and depth, and here she recreates her homeland with a singular grace and intensity. O'Brien returns to the Ireland of "The Country Girls" to trace the story and feelings of a child as she reacts to her upbringing in a world of poverty, bigotry, superstition and ignorance. Incidents and scenery are described in minute, vivid detail. Major and minor characters come to life as small happenings are described, conversations word by word and the setting object by object. The food, factions, fictions, gossip, assumptions, and methods of hiding or misjudging the truth are closely observed as are their consequences in a place that is uniquely Irish.
With her inimitable gift for describing the workings of the heart and mind, Edna O'Brien introduces us to a vivid new cast of restless, searching people who-whether in the Irish countryside or London or New York-remind us of our own humanity. In "Send My Roots Rain," Miss Gilhooley, a librarian, waits in the lobby of a posh Dublin hotel-expecting to meet a celebrated poet while reflecting on the great love who disappointed her. The Irish workers of "The Shovel Kings" have pipe dreams of becoming millionaires in London, but long for their quickly changing homeland-exiles in both places. "Green Georgette" is a searing anatomy of class, through the eyes of a little girl; "Old Wounds" illuminates the importance of family and memory in old age. In language that is always bold and vital, Edna O'Brien pays tribute to the universal forces that rule our lives.
"With a mood akin to WUTHERING HEIGHTS--and indeed the spirit of Emily Bronte" (Irish Times), Edna O'Brien's critically acclaimed novel WILD DECEMBERS charts the quick but sure demise of relations between "the warring sons of warring sons." Here in the countryside of western Ireland, "ancient feuds, romantic passions, and misguided ideas of fidelity blend together in . . . [a] heartbreaking story" (Wall Street Journal) leavened by the human comedy of which O'Brien rarely loses sight. A sister, a brother, and a stranger converge in a classic triangle, proceeding inevitably "toward a climax that is Irish to the quick, violent and sad and, in a strange way, beautiful. Just like the novel itself" (Washington Post). WILD DECEMBERS is a triumphant work from a writer who wears well the mantle of her Irish forebears and yet who, with each new novel, breaks new ground all her own. In this, her latest, "readers could not ask for a more profoundly satisfying book" (Boston Herald).
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