Edna O'Brien's family encouraged her to attend pharmacy school but she left before finishing, to marry an older writer, give birth to two sons, and publish, in 1960, her first novel. The Country Girls so scandalized the O'Briens' local parish that the book was burned by the priest, her family disgraced. Country Girl comes 21 books later, 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 family house in Ireland and the physicality of family life in the country, her story moves on to the crushes and challenges of convent school; elopement, divorce, single-motherhood, and the wild parties of the '60s in London that included people from all walks of life, including such stars as Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, and Paul McCartney. There is love and unrequited love, and the glamour of trips to America as an acclaimed writer who was sought and hosted by Jackie Onassis and invited to the White House by Hillary Clinton. The "broken piano" state of old age is heightened by the intensity of reading, and the drive to write. Brilliant and sensuous, Country Girl is a book that Edna O'Brien was always meant to write.
©2013 Edna O'Brien (P)2013 Hachette Audio
I bought this book, looking forward to listening to it on a long plane ride. At first, I blamed the flight noise for my inability to clearly hear the book but then once home, I had the same difficulty. Ms. O'Brien's soft voice, while charming, is too low and deep to make this a pleasant listening experience. I switched to the Kindle version and am very happily reading now. The story itself is quite good.
Yes...but you will also want the print version to underline and note beautiful phrases and passages..
Her openness to life and what she calls, "the trampoline of love"
Impossible to choose...many ties for first place.
I heartily recommend this book. At first, I was distracted by O'Brien's noisy S's, but that would be a silly reason not to dive into this book. She's a wonderful reader/storyteller. Her love of place (and not just Ireland) and her love for people both draw out her powerful gifts of description. Although there are many stories including famous people, I did not pick up any sense that O'Brien considers herself superior. In fact, some of the small cameos of nameless people are the most wonderful, like the night watchman in an Irish castle who passes the time by reciting classical soliloquies. You will catch yourself cringing, thinking, "Don't do it!" as the author makes mistakes that seem predictable, but she conveys the fog of love so well, you realize we've all made mistakes like this.
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