Tag Archives: Edna O’Brien

The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien

The Country Girls Trilogy Title: The Country Girls Trilogy: The Country Girls; The Lonely Girl; Girls in their Married Bliss
Author: Edna O’Brien
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571330539
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 704
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

So, it took me close to three weeks to finish this trilogy and I really wish those three weeks had not ended this soon. After having heard so much about Edna O’Brien and her writing, this was the first time I was reading something by her (one of her most famous works) and I just cannot wait to lay my hands on more works by her. On an off-note, a lot of people ask me, how every read of mine ends up being five stars or four stars for me? Well, that’s because I pick what I know for sure I will love reading. I think more people should do that. Read what they know they will love, irrespective. Anyway, back to the Country Girls Trilogy.

The country girls are Kate (Caithleen Brady) and Baba (Bridget Brennan) and the trilogy as you must have guessed is about them. It is about their stories that begin the regressive setting of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is looking for love. Baba on the other hand, is a survivor. All that they want is a life that isn’t handed to them, but what they make of it. With hopes and dreams and out to conquer it all, they arrive in Dublin and that’s where the story plays out. The bad choices made, the bad sex had, the bad friends, the bleakness of living and in all of this, the resilience and not to forget the expectations they have of themselves and what is thrust upon by them from society.

O’Brien has written this trilogy with a lot of heart and soul. It is wryly funny too and there are pockets of so much warmth that you cannot help but hoot for Kate and Baba. Initially I thought I wasn’t going to feel anything for these characters, however, as the story plays out, they become a part of your everyday tapestry, through the similarities and differences. Sure, you cannot relate to the Ireland of the 60’s and sure it is all very different now, everywhere in the world (is it?) but the slice of life is what is pertinent and stays relevant to a large extent.

“The Country Girls Trilogy” is a read perfect for winter. Something about it which I cannot put my finger on – maybe the melancholy factor or the transition from hope to despair and vice-versa or even the frivolous to the profound swinging of thoughts and emotions, all in all a read that you must not miss out on.

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Book Review: Saints and Sinners by Edna O’Brien

Title: Saints and Sinners: Stories
Author: Edna O’Brien
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571270316
Genre: Short Stories
PP: 224 Pages
Price: £12.99
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

You’ll never get more black Irish than this, some without much humor, other with very dark and wonderful humor. And I write that as a compliment to the rich voice of this remarkable author. I have to confess that this is the first time I have read anything by Edna O’Brien. I must reform myself and read much more.

The opening story, “Shovel Kings,” takes the reader into the darkness of life both outside–specifically London–and inside Ireland, where life is sustained, if at all, by drink where these characters live in poverty and suffer from abuse, told to the narrator, awaiting an appointment with a psychotherapist, by Rafferty, an exile of sorts whose life could be summarized by this sentence in the story: “Nothing was wrong…but nothing was right, either.” I would say there was much that was wrong. As for the title, well it summarizes the existential lot of the Irish men who came to labor, for naught, in London.

In “Sinners,” aging Delia has “lost that most heartfelt rapport that she once had with God,” her prayers coming only from her lips, not “from deep within anymore.” Delia’s is an abode–that is also a small bed and breakfast–much in need of refreshing: wallpapers, paints, towels…everything. She is the mother of five, one dead, but they are like the wallpapers, faded images only, no longer present in her lonely life. Hers had not been a happy marriage, of course! Few are apparently in Edna O’Brien’s works. Is there any happiness in any Irish households? One wonders when reading these brilliant stories.

In “Madame Cassandra” Millie speaks in first person outside the caravan carrying Madame Cassandra, the gypsy seer, who appears not to wish to met with Millie–and the reader soon learns why. Millie reveals this about her past: “I cannot tell you what a relief it is to be here…to be able to let off a little steam.” A little steam??!! Oh, no, this is a woman filled with wrath. And, of course, the sbuject of her discourse, filled with allusions to various mythologies, is her errant husband.

Okay! When these two sentences soon reveal themselves in “Black Flowers,” “She didn’t know him very well. She had volunteered to give painting lessons in the prison in the Midlands where he was serving a long sentence,” then you know you’re in for a good read.

I could write a lot more about this collection of stories, but hopefully this is enough of a taste so that you will want to order a copy. This is a collection of excellently written short stories from a great author. They are not action packed and there are no car chases, but the writing is good quality and interesting. It is an excellent book to dip in and out of if you have only short bursts of time to spend relaxing with a good book – the short journey to work or even a trip to the bathhroom – come all; we all read on the toilet! I bought the book after listening ton interview with Edna O’Brien on the radio and have loved it. I can fully recommend it to anyone that likes good literature and relaxing.