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Since her debut novel The Country Girls Edna O'Brien has written over twenty works of fiction along with a biography of James Joyce and Lord Byron. She is the recipient of many awards including the Irish Pen Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Art's Gold Medal and the Ulysses Medal. Born and raised in the west of Ireland she has lived in London for many years.
Edna O’Brien is one of Ireland’s greatest storytellers and following the popularity of her recent memoir Country Girl several of her older novels are being brought back into print. Night was first published in 1972 and is narrated in a single night by Mary Hooligan, an extraordinary character who has lived and loved far fuller than many of us would want to. From her childhood in Coose, through marriage, a son, numerous lovers and time spent here, there and everywhere, hers is a rich and deeply involving reflection of life. Brief, shocking and riveting. Click here to see The Love Object by the same author.
Whether or not you have previously read any of O’Brien’s works, this is a perfectly sublime book of short stories, first published between 1968 and 2011. O’Brien has an impeccable touch, her writing is clever, understated, and she has the great gift of being able to make observations without judgement, allowing the reader to make their own decisions. These short stories don't feel as though they've been created but have evolved naturally without unnecessary tampering or adornment. You can feel as though you've been invited to bear witness, allowed a glimpse and peak into real lives. It can feel like a conversation, a something and nothing with no particular point, soft and dreamlike, but later returning to claw and clamour at your consciousness. So, whether you re-discover some old much loved friends or greet new acquaintances destined to become close companions…this is quite simply, a must read. ~ Liz Robinson August 2014 Book of the Month. Click here to see Night by the same author.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 17 February 2011. A collection that is characterised by the author's powerful evocations of place and a glorious and an often heart-breaking grasp of people and their desires and contradictions.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 29 January 2009. This is a wonderfully vivid account of the paradoxical life and loves of Lord Byron. It focuses on the women in his life and in particular the notorious ménage à trois between him, his wife and his half-sister.
Edna O'Brien returns to the world of her debut novel, The Country Girls, in an inspired account of a dying mother and her daughter.
May 2011 Guest Editor Carol Drinkwater on House of Splendid Isolation... Educated at an Irish convent, I was a lonely, frustrated girl who dreamed of escape, of becoming an actress. The early works of Edna O’Brien – her Country Girls trilogy – helped me to understand that my passions, my desire to live, to love were not uncommon. Her later works are magnificent. House of Splendid Isolation is my personal favourite.
Lose yourself in the legendary Edna O'Brien's simmering tale of a woman rediscovering herself on the French Riviera ... 'The taboo-breaking, the fabulous prose - there's no one like Edna O'Brien ... Beautiful.' Anne Enright 'Novels of heart-breaking empathy, rigorous honesty and peerless beauty.' Eimear McBride 'Brilliant and brave.' Ann Patchett 'A treasure.' New York Times Separated from her husband and young son, Ellen leaves behind the loneliness of London for a new life of excitement and sexual freedom:a 'jaunt into iniquity' on the gorgeous French Riviera. However, she soon discovers that independence blurs into loneliness, especially when she receives some heart-breaking news ... Banned in several countries on first publication, Edna O'Brien's August is a Wicked Month is a shimmering, sensual tale of a woman rediscovering herself - and it feels just as glorious, radical, and escapist as today. 'O'Brien simply offers her characters and they come to us living.' V.S. Naipaul 'One of the greatest Irish writers, of this or any era.' Sunday Independent 'One of our bravest and best novelists' Irish Times 'A literary great.' Times
The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy begins in August 2019. After leaving for a religious community in Belgium, the young woman in A Pagan Place becomes lost in memories of her childhood in rural Ireland, reflecting on the rituals of village life, the people she encountered, the enchanting beauty of the landscape, the concept of home - and the shocking event that led to her departure ... Edna O'Brien's stunning new novel Girl will be published by Faber in September 2019, available to pre-order now.
** Winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2020 ** Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlisted for the 2020 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize 2020 A Times, Evening Standard and Financial Times Book of the Year I was a girl once, but not any more . . . A young woman, barely more than a girl herself, must learn to survive with a child of her own, in a world which seems entirely consumed by madness. As she navigates a landscape of terrors and trials, can she find a place of safety within a society blinkered by mistrust and denial? 'Astonishing.' New Statesman 'Raw and transfixing.' Observer 'Miraculous . . . Extraordinary.' Mail on Sunday 'A masterpiece.' Irish Independent 'Mesmerising.' Sunday Times 'Devastating and moving.' Daily Telegraph
It was June 10th, Barnacle Day. He saw her in Nassau Street and they stopped to talk. She thought his blue eyes were those of a Norseman. He was twenty-two, and she, Nora Barnacle, was twenty and employed as a chambermaid in Finn's Hotel. They agreed to meet on June 14th, outside No. 1 Merrion Square, the home of Sir William Wilde, but Nora did not turn up. After a dejected letter from Joyce they met on June 16th, a date which came to be immortalized in literature as Bloomsday. Edna O'Brien paints a miniature portrait of an artist, idealist, insurgent and filled with a secret loneliness. In Nora, he was to find accomplice, collaborator and muse. For all their sexual escalations, Joyce considered their relationship 'a kind of sacrament'. Their life was one of wandering, emotional upheaval and poverty. It was also one that was binding and mysterious, and defied all the mores of intimacy. In prose brimming with life and energy, Edna O'Brien resurrects a relationship of magnificent intensity on the page, and in doing so shows herself to be touched by the genius of the writer she loves above all others.
Edna O'Brien depicts James Joyce as a man hammered by Church, State and family, yet from such adversities he wrote works 'to bestir the hearts of men and angels'. The journey begins with Joyce the arrogant youth, his lofty courtship of Nora Barnacle, their hectic sexuality, children, wanderings, debt and profligacy, and Joyce's obsession with the city of Dublin, which he would re-render through his words. Nor does Edna O'Brien spare us the anger and isolation of Joyce's later years, when he felt that the world had turned its back on him, and she asks how could it be otherwise for a man who knew that conflict is the source of all creation. 'A delight from start to finish . . . achieves the near impossibility of giving a thoroughly fresh view of Joyce' Sunday Times 'As skilful, stylish and pacy as one would expect from so adept a novelist' Sunday Telegraph 'Accessible and passionate, it is a book which should bring Joyce in all his glory and agony to a new and very wide audience' Irish Independent
Byron, more than any other poet, has come to personify the poet as rebel; imaginative and lawless, reaching beyond race, creed or frontier, his notorious flaws redeemed by a magnetism and ultimately a heroism that by ending in tragedy raised it and him from the particular to the universal. Everything about Lord George Gordon Byron was a paradox - insider and outsider, beautiful and deformed, serious and facetious, profligate but on occasion miserly, and possessed of a fierce intelligence trapped forever in a child's magic and malices. He was also a great poet, but as he reminded us, poetry is a distinct faculty and has little to do with the individual life of its creator. Edna O'Brien's exemplary biography focuses upon the diverse and colourful women in Byron's life. 'O'Brien charts the many loves of the notorious 19th-century poet's reckless life in immediate and candid prose' Sunday Telegraph 'Edna O'Brien has always had a gift for writing about affairs of the heart' Guardian 'There is much to enjoy in this idiosyncratic and highly readable account of the poet whose writing enthralled and whose actions appalled in equal measure' Independent
** Winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2020 ** Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlisted for the 2020 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction A Times, Evening Standard and Financial Times Book of the Year Captured, abducted and married into Boko Haram, the narrator of this story witnesses and suffers the horrors of a community of men governed by a brutal code of violence. Barely more than a girl herself, she must soon learn how to survive as a woman with a child of her own. Just as the world around her seems entirely consumed by madness, bound for hell, she is offered an escape of sorts - but only into another landscape of trials and terrors amidst the unforgiving wilds of northeastern Nigeria, through the forest and beyond; a place where her traumas are met with the blinkered judgement of a society in denial. How do we love in a world that has lost its moorings? How can we comprehend the barbarism of our enemies, and learn forgiveness for atrocities committed in the name of ideology? Edna O'Brien's new novel pierces to the heart of these questions: and the result is her masterpiece.
The Sunday Times bestseller: Girl is the new novel by the legendary Edna O'Brien, author of The Country Girls (dramatised on BBC Radio 4 in August 2019). Captured, abducted and married into Boko Haram, the narrator of this story witnesses and suffers the horrors of a community of men governed by a brutal code of violence. Barely more than a girl herself, she must soon learn how to survive as a woman with a child of her own. Just as the world around her seems entirely consumed by madness, bound for hell, she is offered an escape of sorts - but only into another landscape of trials and terrors amidst the unforgiving wilds of northeastern Nigeria, through the forest and beyond; a place where her traumas are met with the blinkered judgement of a society in denial. How do we love in a world that has lost its moorings? How can we comprehend the barbarism of our enemies, and learn forgiveness for atrocities committed in the name of ideology? Edna O'Brien's new novel pierces to the heart of these questions: and the result is her masterpiece.
Edna O'Brien's beloved classics plunge us into the lives and loves of two girls in rural 1950s Ireland (with a new foreword by Eimear McBride). 'The taboo-breaking, the fabulous prose - there's no one like Edna O'Brien ... Beautiful.' Anne Enright 'Novels of heart-breaking empathy, rigorous honesty and peerless beauty.' Eimear McBride 'Brilliant and brave.' Ann Patchett 'A treasure.' New York Times ONE OF THE BBC'S '100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED OUR WORLD' Caithleen 'Kate' Brady and Bridget 'Baba' Brennan are growing up in a repressive Irish village after World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a reckless survivor. After being expelled from convent school, they dream of the bright lights of Dublin - and are rewarded with bad luck and bad sex; marry for the wrong reasons; but continue to fight the expectations forced upon 'girls' of every era to become brave new women. Edna O'Brien's debut novels revolutionised Irish literature in the 1960s. Banned by the authorities as 'indecent' and burned by the clergy, they were notorious for their frank portrayal of sexual desire: but scandal turned to fame, and made this glorious coming-of-age tale an instant classic that inspires and delights readers to this day. 'Buoyantly youthful ... With all the freshness in the world.' Sunday Times 'An excellent and highly unusual blend of bawdiness and innocence.' Evening Standard 'O'Brien simply offers her characters and they come to us living.' V.S. Naipaul 'A natural writer ... [such] unphoney charm and unlaborious originality.' Kingsley Amis 'One of the greatest Irish writers, of this or any era.' Sunday Independent 'One of our bravest and best novelists' Irish Times 'A literary great.' Times
Faber Stories, a landmark series of individual volumes, presents masters of the short story form at work in a range of genres and styles. An unnamed protagonist is on holiday with her new, much-married lover, in the company of the monstrously rich. 'How long would she last? It would be uppermost in all their minds.' Each day, while the others are out at sea, she is taught to swim. Eventually, she will be expected to perform. The pressure mounts; it is only a matter of time before she snaps. Edna O'Brien crafts a quietly horrifying scene of eroticism and insecurity, and makes one woman's near-fatal discomfort stand for society's larger trap. Bringing together past, present and future in our ninetieth year, Faber Stories is a celebratory compendium of collectable work.
A treasure of world literature back in print, featuring a new introduction by Eimear McBrideThe country girls are Caithleen "e;Kate"e; Brady and Bridget "e;Baba"e; Brennan, and their story begins in the repressive atmosphere of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a survivor. Setting out to conquer the bright lights of Dublin, they are rewarded with comical miscommunications, furtive liaisons, bad faith, bad luck, bad sex, and compromise; marrying for the wrong reasons, betraying for the wrong reasons, fighting in their separate ways against the overwhelming wave of expectations forced upon "e;girls"e; of every era.The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue charts unflinchingly the pattern of women's lives, from the high spirits of youth to the chill of middle age, from hope to despair, in remarkable prose swinging from blunt and brutal to whimsical and lyrical. It is a saga both painful and hilarious, and remains one of the major accomplishments of Edna O'Brien's extraordinary career.This omnibus edition includes the novels The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in Their Married Bliss.