The inclusion of Kate O’Brien in the Virago canon does credit to the publisher’s even-handedness. The author is certainly not a feminist writer, and even her Irishness is not of the conventional sort. She rarely indulges in irony, or in the fun of the phrase that might be expected of a Munsterwoman. Her Ireland is one which has been under-represented in the standard works. It is the Ireland of the provincial Catholic bourgeoisie whose prosperity was based on trade and who, having made their money at the till, moved out into the country to build themselves solid houses with names like Rosemount and Tivoli. There, overlooking the source of their wealth, they set about proving by the shine of their silver and the polish of their mahogany that they were a match for the disdainful Anglo-Irish neighbours who regarded them as priest-ridden parvenus. They took their religion from Rome, their work-ethic from Bradford, and their life-style from Harrogate. Their grandfathers owed their freedom to O’Connell, but Parnell made them nervous and they sent their sons to be educated at Stonyhurst and to die in Flanders.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'As readers, we are immersed in Tambu’s self-alienation, at one and the same time reached out to and held at arm’s length.'
@ellekeboehmer weighs up Tsitsi Dangarembga's Booker-shortlisted novel, 'This Mournable Body'.
'Trump has done China another favour by manifestly not caring a jot about human rights issues. Win-win, as they often say in Beijing, which is why the Chinese leadership wants this biddable figure to defeat Biden.'
'We are blessed at the moment with an abundance of farmers who have powerful stories to tell.'
@herdyshepherd1's 'English Pastoral' is 'lyrical and passionate', says @CharliePyeSmith.