30 April 2013

ARC Review: Country Girl by Edna O'Brien

Country Girl: A Memoir by Edna O'Brien
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Format: Advance Reading Copy, 353 pages
On Sale Date: April 30 2013


"In 1960 Edna O'Brien published The Country Girls, her first novel, which so scandalized the O'Briens' local parish that the book was burned by its priest. Married with two sons, O' Brien was underterred and has since created a body of work that bears comparison with the best writing of our time. Country Girl bringsus face-to-face with a life of high drama and contemplation. It is a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that imprinted and enlivened one lifetime.

Starting with O'Brien's birth in a grand but deteriorating house in Ireland, her story moves through convent school to elopement, divorce, single-motherhood, and the wild parties of the 1960s London that involved people from all walks of life, including stars such as Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, and Paul McCartney. There is love and unrequited love and the glamour of trips to America as an acclaimed writer hosted by Jackie Onassis and Hillary Clinton. Brilliant and sensuos, Country Girl is a book we are fortunate Edna O'Brien decided to write."


The circumstances under which I read this book were less than ideal. First of all, I barely pick up a book during a month that was filled with preparing for exams, packing boxes, moving and jet lag. More importantly, I had no idea who Edna O'Brien was, and I went into reading an author's autobiography without ever having read a single one of her books. Usually, when I pick up a memoir - which is something that as it is, does not occur very often -  it is to find out more about a person that I am already interested in, for example to find out where an author found the inspiration for their work. I did not have this motivation when I picked up Country Girl, it was just another book I won in a goodreads giveaway.

Not knowing any of O'Brien's works did take away a sort of interest, which any other reader that loves her work would naturally display, and this did make the reading process a little bit slow for me. This is not to say that I found the book boring by any means, it conveys so much about O'Brien herself, and the times and countries she lived in, but I think the book is best suited to those that are already familiar with O'Briens works and thus want to find out more about the person that wrote them.

What really made the reading of this memoir worthwhile is its beautiful prose. Edna O'Brien truly is a writer, and a brilliant one. Rarely have I found a writer put words together in a better manner. This memoir truly got me interested in O'Brien's work and I am sure I will pick up some of her books in the future. Because of its literary brilliance, I give this book 4 out of 5 ships.

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