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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.
The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy begins in August 2019. Edna O'Brien's wonderful, wild and moving novel shocked the nation on its publication in 1960. Adapted for the stage by the author, The Country Girls, the play, is a highly theatrical and free-flowing telling of this classic coming of age story. This new edition of The Country Girls was published to coincide with its UK premiere at Chichester Festival Theatre in June 2017. Edna O'Brien's stunning new novel Girl will be published by Faber in September 2019, available to pre-order now.
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.
A Pagan Place is Edna O'Brien's stunning novel about the uniquely wonderful, terrible, peculiar place she once called home. She writers not only of a life there - of a child becoming a woman - but of the Irish experience out of which that life arises. This is the Ireland of country villages and barley fields, of druids in the woods and of mischievous girls. Ireland has marked her life and work with unmistakable colour and depth, and here she recreates her homeland with a singular grace and intensity.
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
Banned in several countries upon first publication, August is a Wicked Month is a simmering tale of a woman rediscovering herself on the French Riviera. Separated from her husband and with her young son away, Ellen leaves behind the loneliness of London for a new life of excitement and sexual freedom. But she soon discovers that independence isn't quite so straightforward.
The legendary Edna O'Brien's tale of a mysterious stranger spellbinding an Irish village is 'the kind of masterpiece that reminds you why you read books in the first place' (Observer). ONE OF THE SUNDAY TIMES' TOP 100 NOVELS OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY 'Magnificent' (Sunday Times) 'Beautiful' (Financial Times) 'Enthralling' (Times) 'Extraordinary' (Independent) 'Astonishing' (New Yorker) When a man who calls himself a faith healer arrives in a small, west-coast Irish village, the community is soon under the spell of this charismatic stranger from the Balkans. One woman in particular, Fidelma McBride, becomes enthralled in a fatal attraction that leads to unimaginable consequences. 'One of the most interesting and ambitious [books] ever written by an Irish author.' (Irish Times) 'One of the greatest Irish writers, of this or any era.' (Sunday Independent)
Ten years on from her last novel, Edna O'Brien reminds us why she is thought to be one of the great Irish writers of this and any generation. When a wanted war criminal from the Balkans, masquerading as a faith healer, settles in a small west coast Irish village, the community are in thrall. One woman, Fidelma McBride, falls under his spell and in this astonishing novel, Edna O'Brien charts the consequences of that fatal attraction. The Little Red Chairs is a story about love, the artifice of evil, and the terrible necessity of accountability in our shattered, damaged world. A narrative which dares to travel deep into the darkness has produced a book of enormous emotional intelligence and courage. Written with a fierce lyricism and sensibility, The Little Red Chairs dares to suggest there is a way back to redemption and hope when great evil is done. Almost six decades on from her debut, Edna O'Brien has produced what may be her masterpiece in the novel form.
The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy begins in August 2019. I thought of life's many bounties, to have known the extremities of joy and sorrow, love, crossed love and unrequited love, success and failure, fame and slaughter ... Born in Ireland in 1930 and driven into exile after publication of her controversial first novel, The Country Girls, Edna O'Brien is now hailed as one of the most majestic writers of her era - and Country Girl is her fabulous memoir. Born in rural Ireland, O'Brien weaves the tale of her life from convent school to elopement, divorce, single-motherhood, moving on to the wild parties of 1960s bohemian in London, encounters with Hollywood giants, pop stars, and literary titans, love and unrequited love, and glamorous trips to America as a celebrity writer. Country Girl is a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that have forged a legendary author. O'Brien recasts her life with the imaginative alchemy of a poet, and the result is a memoir of sparkling wisdom and honesty. Edna O'Brien's stunning new novel Girl will be published by Faber in September 2019, available to pre-order now.
I thought of life's many bounties, to have known the extremities of joy and sorrow, love, crossed love and unrequited love, success and failure, fame and slaughter, to have read in the newspapers that as a writer I was past my sell-by date, yet regardless, to go on writing and reading, to be lucky enough to live in these two intensities that have buttressed my whole life. Born in Ireland in 1930 and driven into exile after publication of her controversial first novel, The Country Girls, O'Brien has created a body of work which bears comparison with the very best writers of the twentieth century. In Country Girl we come face to face with literary life of high drama and contemplation. And along the way there are encounters with Hollywood giants, pop stars and literary titans -- all of whom lend this life, so gorgeously, sometimes painfully remembered here, a terrible poignancy. In prose which sparkles with the effortless gifts of a master in her ninth decade, Edna O'Brien has recast her life with the imaginitive insight of a poet. It is a book of unfathomable depths and honesty.
The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy begins in August 2019. 'Edna O'Brien writes the most beautiful, aching stories of any writer, anywhere.' Alice Munro A woman walks the streets of Manhattan and contemplates with exquisite longing the precarious affair she has embarked on, amidst the grandeur and cacophony of the cityscape; a young Irish girl and her mother are thrilled to be invited to visit the glamorous Coughlan's but find - for all the promise of their green gorgette, silver shoes and fancy dinner parties - they leave disappointed; an Irishman in north London retraces his life as a young lad with his mates digging the streets and dreaming of the apocryphal gold, an outsider both in Ireland and England, yet he carries the lodestar of his native land. This classic collection glows with Edna O'Brien's trademark lyricism, powerful evocations of place, and heart-breaking insight into the desires and contradictions of humanity. Edna O'Brien's stunning new novel Girl will be published by Faber in September 2019, available to pre-order now.
'A beguiling memory play of such subtle and elusive beauty, you feel it might disintegrate if you were to put your finger on it. But the action forms a delicate tissue of loss and regret as the bewitching Hazel causes Mr Berry to reflect on the wife he has lost and the child he never had.' Guardian 'Combines youthful freshness with a wise, rich, wholly lived-in quality. O'Brien digs deep, like elaborate crochet-work where the needles lance to the heart.' Daily Telegraph 'An enchanting exploration of desire and regret.' Observer Haunted premiered at Manchester's Royal Exchange in 2009 and transfers to the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, in February 2010 before a UK tour.
From her hospital bed in Dublin, the elderly Dilly awaits the visit of her daughter, Eleanora, from London. The epochs of her life pass before her; she also retraces Eleanora's precipitate marriage to a foreigner, which alienated mother and daughter, and Dilly's heart rending letters sent over the years in a determination to reclaim her daughter. But Eleanora's visit does not prove to be the glad reunion 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.
A classic title in Edna O'Brien's Country Girls Trilogy - the first volume It is the early 1960s in a country village in Ireland. Caithleen Brady and her attractive friend Baba are on the verge of womanhood and dreaming of spreading their wings in a wider world; of discovering love and luxury and liquor and above all, fun. With bawdy innocence, shrewd for all their inexperience, the girls romp their way through convent school to the bright lights of Dublin - where Caithleen finds that suave, idealised lovers rarely survive the real world.