Edna O'Brien was born in 1930. Her brilliant debut novel, The Country Girls, was banned in her native Ireland upon its publication in 1960. Since then she has gone on to produce some of the finest writing of the 20th century. In Country Girl we hear of a life of high drama and contemplation, of encounters with Hollywood giants, pop stars, and literary titans. It is a life gorgeously, sometimes painfully remembered, in prose that sparkles with the effortless gifts of a master.
“Her autobiography does more than recount the path-breaking life of a pioneer of Irish literature, and of women's fiction, who not only reflected change in her native land but helped to drive it forward. It is, above all, a portrait of the artist - and a record of her struggle to remain one, ever since the young pharmacist from rural County Clare, then miserably married and exiled in suburban Wimbledon, read TS Eliot's Introducing James Joyce and found that it lit a flame in her.” (Boyd Tonkin from the Independent interview)
“It is, in its many parts, full of the O'Brien enchantments: the lushness 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; the sharpness of specific recollections...the entire narrative leaves you with an enchanted feeling of having been drawn into a life of great internal richness.” (Mary Kenny, Irish Independent)
“When an acclaimed writer and flamboyant character such as Edna O’Brien pens a memoir, we have the delicious prospect of reading the story of a life well lived, well told... Country Girl is a terrific, gripping read... It is easily forgotten that at the time O’Brien started out writing, very few women had established themselves as career novelists. O’Brien had to look within, to her own experience and feeling, creating a distinct style. With radical perception she wrote of her time, capturing the essence of a generation...perhaps now, on its publication, is the time for a proper reassessment of Edna O’Brien as one of the great creative writers of her generation.” (Mary Robinson, Irish Times)
“Wonderful, crystalline and true... O'Brien is one of the last writers we have whose prose contains deep within it the cadences of the Bible and the liturgy and this gives the book a certain weight; I read it almost with a sense of mourning.” (Rachel Cooke, Observer)
“Edna O’Brien is a bewitching and remarkable talent... words, as she reveals in this exemplary memoir, have defined her entire life... O’Brien’s evocation of the Ireland of her childhood is, as might be expected, delicately excoriating and deftly comic... O’Brien’s life reverberates with literary references, and it is her pin-prick sharpness and the fact that she is always 'drawn into the wild heart of things' that makes both her and this book so alluring.” (Helen Davies, Sunday Times)