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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.
A classic title in Edna O'Brien's Country Girls Trilogy - the second volume From eccentric Joanna's boarding house, predatory Baba roams Dublin looking for men to give her a good time - and dragging with her a reluctant Cait, worrying about her figure and wanting to talk about books. Then she meets dark, long-faced Eugene Gaillard, a film director, and for a while Cait's romantic dreams seem to be fulfilled. But Eugene Gaillard is a Protestant divorce, and when Cait's drunkard father gets to hear of it, he summons a lynch mob' Steering expertly between high romance, outright farce and the blend of them that is reality, Girl with Green Eyes is an original and joyful story of the gateway to adulthood.
A classic title in Edna O'Brien's Country Girls Trilogy - the third volume Kate and Baba are in London, playing out the tragicomedy of their married lives to its surprisingly level-headed conclusion. Kate, feeling trapped in her grey stone house with her increasingly cold husband, tearfully looks for her dreams of romance elsewhere. And when Eugene takes terrible, implacable revenge, she naturally turns to her brazen friend Baba for help. But Baba, the bored trophy wife of builder Frank, vulgarly flashing his wealth and ignorance to the world, has her own problems without Kate drooping self-pityingly over her. And both women find unsuspected qualities in themselves as they learn to face reality.
'Her best book, and a modern masterpiece' Sunday Independent 'One of the finest ever novels by an Irish writer' John Waters, Magill Set in the countryside of western Ireland, In the Forest centres on unwitting victims for sacrifice: a radiant young woman, her young son and a trusting priest, all despatched to the wilderness of a young man's unbridled, deranged fantasies. Edna O'Brien's riveting, frightening and brilliantly told new novel reminds us that anything can happen when protection isn't afforded to either perpetrator or victim . . . 'A savage portrait of desolation and rage, brilliantly told, truly shocking' Sunday Independent 'Brave, sensitive, beautifully written' Sunday Tribune 'A spare, compelling and compassionate novel' Guardian
'A gripping love story which will keep the reader guessing to the end and delight Edna O'Brien's many fans' Literary Review When a young man arrives from Australia to claim his inheritance, he changes a small Irish town for ever. Joseph Brennan sees Michael Bugler, the returned exile, as a threat. And for Breege, Joseph's younger sister, Bugler is an irresistible stranger to whose charms she must not succumb for fear of betraying her brother. A love-hate story on many levels, Wild Decembers explores the depth and darkness at the root of all ownership. With a rich and comic cast of characters, this primal story is a complex and daring work, fixed in a time and place, yet imbued with the permanence of myth. 'The power of the writing and the dazzle of the images make the book a resounding success' Dublin Evening News 'Intense and poetic' Independent 'She is one of our bravest and best novelists' Irish Times 'She's an exceptionally good writer. Those elegant, tumbling words, and the conviction that the writer is making a really important point' Sunday Tribune
'Edna O'Brien is one of the greatest writers in the English-speaking world' New York Times Book Review In the deceptively idyllic setting of rural Ireland, a crime of passion results in an emotional battlefield. At the centre of the crisis a young girl struggles with the conflicts of mind and body, the teaching of her faith and her mounting bewilderment at what she must do. As she tries to conceal, then escape her fate, she finds herself driven to the brink of despair. And then her private - and redeemable - tragedy is dragged into the public realm, and the power of decision is taken out of her hands. 'An angry, violent yet startlingly beautiful book' Independent on Sunday 'Taut and relentlessly powerful . . . O'Brien describes the tug of war between religious zealots and the kindly legal figures brilliantly. The story becomes grotesquely suspenseful and chilling' Literary Review 'Extraordinary and gripping . . . Down by the River is her most exciting and rewarding book by far' Observer