Country Girl: A Memoir by Edna O’Brien - review by Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Farewell to County Clare

Country Girl: A Memoir


Faber & Faber 320pp £20

I most recently saw Edna O’Brien at a celebratory dinner at the Irish Embassy in London and, though now almost 82, she remains as glamorous and as striking as she appears on the front cover of this memoir – which she always said she would never write. But wiser counsels, and possibly the continuing need to earn, persuaded her to do so, and we should be grateful, because it is, in its many parts, full of the O’Brien enchantments, the lush writing about nature, the delicate balance of rapture and rupture in recapturing the experience of love, the feminine eye for clothes, the true ear for a story, and the sharpness of specific recollections. 

Some of the memories recounted will seem familiar because they already appear in her fiction, but they are still worth recalling, and she does so with beguiling lucidity. There is a passage about her ardent adolescent experience of falling in love with a nun – ‘in a manner no different,

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