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Actress

by Anne Enright

Family Drama Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Actress

Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theater legend. Every moment of her life is a performance, with her daughter, Norah, standing in the wings. With age, alcohol, and dimming stardom, however, Katherine’s grip on reality grows fitful. Fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime.

As Norah’s role gradually changes to Katherine’s protector, caregiver, and finally legacy-keeper, she revisits her mother’s life of fiercely kept secrets; and Norah confronts in turn the secrets of her own sexual and emotional coming-of-age.

With virtuosic storytelling, Actress weaves together two generations of women with difficult sexual histories, touching a raw and timely nerve. With virtuosic storytelling and in prose at turns lyrical and knife-sharp, Enright takes readers to the heart of the maddening yet tender love that binds a mother and daughter.

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Actress Synopsis

Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction : One of Time's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020

Katherine O'Dell is an Irish theater legend. As her daughter, Norah, retraces her mother's celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mother's and her own. Katherine began her career on Ireland's bus-and-truck circuit before making it to London's West End, Broadway, and finally Hollywood.

Every moment of her life is a performance, with young Norah standing in the wings. But the mother-daughter romance cannot survive Katherine's past or the world's damage. With age, alcohol, and dimming stardom, Katherine's grip on reality grows fitful. Fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime. As Norah's role gradually changes to Katherine's protector, caregiver, and finally legacy-keeper, she revisits her mother's life of fiercely kept secrets; and Norah reveals in turn the secrets of her own sexual and emotional coming-of-age story.

Her narrative is shaped by three braided searches-for her father's identity; for her mother's motive in donning a Chanel suit one morning and shooting a TV producer in the foot; and her own search for a husband, family, and work she loves.

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Closing date: 25/03/2021

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Actress Press Reviews

Enright's indelible images of the primal love between mother and daughter that ebbs, flows, and ultimately abides will stick with readers.  -- Booklist (starred review)

Another triumph for Enright: a confluence of lyrical prose, immediacy, warmth, and emotional insight.  -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Intoxicating.  -- Mary Gordon - New York Times

Captivating.  -- Sara Resnick - The New Yorker

There is something that seems effortless about Ms. Enright's writing-an illusion, of course, but one brilliantly sustained.  -- Sam Sacks - Wall Street Journal

Gorgeously written fiction...Enright's unflinching portrait...is scrupulously developed and painfully moving.  -- Wendy Smith - Boston Globe

Anne Enright writes so well that she just might ruin you for anyone else...Stripped raw of any sentimentality, the result is a critique, a confession, a love letter-and another brilliant novel from Anne Enright.  -- Ron Charles - Washington Post

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781324005629
Publication date: 18/02/2021
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781324005629
Publication date: 18th February 2021
Author: Anne Enright
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 272 pages
Genres: Family Drama, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Anne Enright

Anne Enright was born in Dublin and now lives and works in County Wicklow. She is the author of a collection of stories, The Portable Virgin, which won the Rooney Prize, and three novels, The Wig My Father Wore, What Are You Like? which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and won the Encore Award, and The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch.

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