Unbelievably good! So real and so touching. There are passages from this book that I know I will remember always. Any woman who is 40ish and facing that question of "What now?" should read this. The landscape descriptions alone are worth reading the book - they're poetic. I want to go to Ireland just to see the places she describes. The real meat of the story, though, is the main character's self realization. It is soul stirring.
The heroine, Kathleen de Burca, is an Irish travel writer living in London. Estranged from her homeland and her family, pushing 50 but still living in the same dingy basement flat that's been her home for two decades, Kathleen's is a life gone "even and dry." Love has been her traditional panacea: "I believed in passion the way other people believed in God: everything fell in place around it." But the only love that comes her way these days takes the form of grim, anonymous sex--and even that grows harder to find.
Oddly enough, it's history--her own, and Ireland's--that brings Kathleen back to life. Shattered by a close friend's death, she leaves her job and London to immerse herself in a 150-year-old divorce case. In 1849, according to court documents, the Anglo-Irish landowner Richard Talbot divorced his wife because she committed adultery with their ragged Irish groom. Or did she? The book Kathleen imagines writing about the affair is a classic tale of passion--yet her research turns up a more complicated story, even as love once again makes inroads into her own life.
A love story inside a love story. The tale of a woman who faces getting older alone, and her obsession with a historical scandal after the famine in Ireland, her homeland. She comes home to research the story and face her past and understand how it has shaped her life. An excellent read, my favorite book this year.
A must read. Couldn't put this one down. Intelligently written.
Really enjoyed it--very different in writing style. The novel tells the story of an Irish travel writer living in London, who throws over her life there to return to Ireland and write a book. She's writing a book about an affair in early Ireland between the wife of an English landlord and her Irish servant..but it interweaves the two women back and forth. It is really about the travel writer understanding herself, her life, and her feelings about her childhood, about Ireland...
great story- good mix of present & past day
a travel writer decides to write about an English landlord's wife and her affair with an Irish servant. The book follows the life of the travel writer.
Fabulous read. Told through court documents and flashbacks. Wonderful book.
About an Irish woman going through a kind of mid-life crisis. It was interesting to learn about Irish History and English-Irish politics.
From Publishers Weekly:
Well-known Irish newspaper columnist O'Faolain made a splash in 1998 with the publication of her unsentimental yet poignant memoir. The essential themes and many details of her evocatively atmospheric first novel will be familiar to readers of Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman. Expatriate Irishwoman Kathleen de Burca, an unmarried, middle-aged travel writer, lives in a dreary basement flat in London. Although she is professionally successful, her quest for passion has devolved into a series of increasingly rare one-night stands. She justifies the unsatisfying nature of her relationships by characterizing herself as "a generous woman." When her best friend dies of a heart attack, Kathleen decides to quit her job and write the book she has been contemplating for years. She returns to Ireland, where she immerses herself in research into an 1856 divorce case involving an alleged affair between Mrs. Talbot, the wife of an Anglo-Irish landowner, and William Mullan, their servant. Kathleen is also discovering truths about herself, her family and her country as she (like Mrs. Talbot) confronts the dilemma of whether to seize what may be her last chance for love and passion, albeit with a married man. O'Faolain's novel-within-a-novel device effectively mirrors one of the author's themes, the ultimate unknowability of a past always viewed through the lens of the present. The humor, honesty and moral seriousness with which Kathleen assesses her life and the conditions of her heart and her soul acquire a moving resonance as the imagined lives of her characters achieve resolution and her own life flowers into another phase. And O'Faolain's depiction of the west of Ireland during and just after the Famine surpasses any historical recitation of the "facts.
"I'm only halfway through this book, and the title for my review pretty much sums up my impressions. O'Faolain describes things beautifully. But I am completely exhausted with the main character's lack of character and obsessive self-reflection. Perhaps it is a generational thing (Gen X here), but I find her VERY difficult to relate to. Perhaps she'll find some personality by the end of the book, but I'm pretty much just hanging on.
I enjoyed the many layers of this novel. It layers two stories; one of a female travel writer, who steps away from her career in order to write a book based on a divorce judgement for an Irish lord in the mid-1800's against his wife who was caught in infidelity with a servant. The writer returns to her native Ireland from England in order to research facts for her novel, and at the same time she tries to deal with her own emotional issues having grown up in a poor Irish family. Much of the writer's style is very good, and some is rather disappointing. Overall, the book is worth a read, and I would be open to reading more from this author.