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Edna O'Brien Biography

(1932– ), The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, Girl with Green Eyes, Girls in Their Married Bliss

girls novels novel irish

Irish novelist and short-story writer, born and brought up in the village of Tuamgraney, Co. Clare, the daughter of a farmer, educated at the Convent of Mercy in Loughrea, Co. Galway. At 16 she worked in a chemist's shop in Dublin and attended evening classes at the Pharmaceutical College. In 1959 she moved to London where she wrote her first novel. The Country Girls (1960) begins the bitter-sweet story of Caithleen and Baba, two girls brought up in the close-knit, cruel world of a small Irish village. Narrated by the soft and sympathetic Caithleen, and confessional in tone, the novel traces her development from a naïve schoolgirl—afraid of her drunken father and used by the confident, malicious Baba—into a no less naïve young woman, flirting with disaster in the alien environment of Dublin. In The Lonely Girl (1962; reprinted as Girl with Green Eyes, 1964), and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964), set in Dublin, the narration switches from the gentle Caithleen to the bold Baba; these three novels appeared together in The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (1986). The ego / alter ego relationship is a recurring theme in O'Brien's work, and in August Is a Wicked Month (1965) she internalizes the conflict in the character of Ellen whose responsible side is left behind when she goes on a hedonistic trip to the Riviera; the death of her son while on holiday with her estranged husband leaves Ellen unable to reconcile the two sides of her personality. The realistic evocation of Ireland and the Irish has been one of the great strengths of O'Brien's fiction. Her other novels include Casualties of Peace (1966), Night (1972), Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977), and The High Road (1988). In the 1990s O'Brien enjoyed increasing success. In Time and Tide (1992), Nell, the protagonist of earlier novels, is seen as the mother of adult sons, coping with despair and bereavement. Even more accomplished and critically acclaimed was the controversial The House of Splendid Isolation (1994), the tragic tale of a lonely widow's encounter with an IRA terrorist on the run. Arguably O'Brien's most ambitious novel, it is also the most overtly politically engaged of her works. O'Brien has published several collections of short stories including The Love Object (1968), A Scandalous Woman and Other Stories (1974), Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories (1978), Returning (1982), and Lantern Slides (1989); these, like her novels, contain gentle, yet painful considerations of love, guilt, and loss. She has written several plays, including Virginia (1981), a study of Virginia Woolf, and writes for film and television.

Flann O'Brien, the principal pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan, otherwise Brain O'Nuallain Biography - (1911–66), the principal pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan, otherwise Brain O'Nuallain [next] [back] Conor Cruise O'Brien Biography - (1917– ), Observer, The Bell, Maria Cross: Imaginative Patterns in a Group of Modern Catholic Writers

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