By Jackie May for The Times
Edna O’Brien, now in her 80s and engaging with the “hazards of old age”, is known for her novels of love and loss. In Country Girl she has, with the same sensitivity and beautiful style as she describes the inner lives of her protagonists, written about herself.
Her story is both sad and remarkable. She was born in 1930 in a small Irish town to an alcoholic father and a mother she loved. As a young woman, in love with a married man, she left Ireland to escape the stranglehold of her native country’s conservatism and settled in London. There she bravely separates from her partner and the father of her children, struggles financially, and finally creates for herself an exciting and glamorous life. She writes of her friends, famous and wild, of her children, and then later of a return to Ireland.
Her life is fascinating but the book’s real beauty lies in her writing, whether she’s describing an LSD trip or life in Dublin.
Even if you haven’t read her many novels, this memoir is engrossing.
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