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Almost There Hardcover – February 24, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (February 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573222410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573222419
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,721,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A memoir may be a summing-up of a long, interesting life, or it can be a sort of self-examination so addictive the writer joins the ranks of the "serial memoirists." O'Faolain's a repeat offender, effectively rechewing material incompletely digested in her previous memoir, Are You Somebody? She opens by listing what she doesn't have, as she enters her mid-50s-someone to love, someone to love her, money, a workplace, a pension-but it's clear love is her biggest problem: "How have I ended up with nobody?" Her early boyfriends were apparently unremarkable, her 15-year relationship with "Nell" ended awfully and her subsequent affair with an elderly married man was mostly imagined. Toward the book's end, she's almost ditching her relationship with a divorced father, resenting his intimacy with his daughter. Her anger at her dysfunctional parents seethes throughout, culminating in a fantasy of joining her (now deceased) mother in a bar, and walking out just when Mom's ordered her a drink. By ending on that note, O'Faolain hints that her parents' lovelessness made it hard for her to love, an unsatisfying conclusion to such a nuanced account. Still, readers will enjoy O'Faolain for her witty turns of phrase: as an ex-smoker, she follows street smokers "to gulp their slipstreams," and she fears she's aging so badly she's "joining the rejects of the next-to-Last-Judgment." Her self-deprecation-so reminiscent of Jean Rhys-can be oddly comforting.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This memoir picks up where O'Faolain's celebrated Are You Somebody? left off.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on April 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"I think you can be born homesick. I think you can have a dislocated heart. No place will do. The most wonderful home in the world full of the most love wouldn't be enough for you - you'd keep looking around for where you belong." The "you," of course, is O'Faolain herself, a restless soul still searching for - love? contentment? self-assurance? - still hungry as she reaches 60, her professional life materially validated by bestsellerdom and floods of heartfelt (often heartbreaking) letters from readers of her first memoir, "Are You Somebody?"
Readers of AYS who were swept up by the intimacy and energy of O'Faolain's voice, the unvarnished honesty of her brutal stories of childhood, her hard-won place in Irish journalism and her ongoing, episodic search for love, will find the same frank passion in this second book. Written after the success of AYS and her first novel, "My Dream of You," "Almost There" muses on the changes acclaim has brought - financial security, prestige, Italian holidays and writing sojourns in Manhattan. She describes the writing of the novel and the lover she had at the time - nearly illiterate, married, elderly and secretive - with a clear-eyed distance that combines rueful, wry self-knowledge with raw passion. She shows where she borrowed from real life for her fiction, she tells how AYS affected relationships with friends and old lovers, whose versions differed, sometimes, sharply, with her own. "I hadn't realized before I wrote AYS that I for one need constantly to relearn a simple thing - that I do not understand other people as they understand themselves."
There's a great deal in this vein, how "the memoir changes its own conclusion by virtue of being written.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Some years ago, while traveling in Ireland for the first time, I was struck both by how lush the country was --- as green, if not greener, than I've seen in all the tourism ads --- and by how the landscape was even more inspirational than this novice writer could have imagined. I remember commenting to my then boyfriend that it is no wonder that great writers have sprung from these verdant hills, like so many lambs from the loins of the nation's ubiquitous sheep. From Shaw, Joyce and Wilde to contemporaries Maeve Binchy, Frank McCourt and Roddy O'Doyle, the country boasts a herd of "greats," skilled storytellers and writers. Nuala O'Faolain has earned a place at the head of the contemporary herd, first with ARE YOU SOMEBODY and now in the continuing memoir of her life, ALMOST THERE.
Subtitled "The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman," ALMOST THERE could just as easily have been titled "The Inward Journey of a Dublin Woman." O'Faolain writes in the best tradition of her Irish predecessors. Rarely sentimental or sappy, she pauses at moments in her life to reflect, to share snapshots of her history with more than just a beautifully descriptive narrative. She offers feeling that is raw, honest and often painful to read. Her story, exposed in the two volumes, is an inward look, a rich and insightful recollection of a life sometimes lonely, sometimes disappointing --- and all tied together in often lyrical language, reminiscent of her native tongue and the magic of her homeland. And lest I forget, she wields a national irreverence, a sometimes dark sense of humor so resonant of the Irish.
In ALMOST THERE, O'Faolain retells the six years that have passed since her first memoir, while going back in time on occasion to incidents that helped to inform her present self.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Suez on April 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Enthusiastic Recommend: Almost There by Nuala O'Faolain
This is a memoir of six years in the life of a woman in her 60s. It's her story of struggling with her past, with the long series of things that shaped her into something that she decided she did not want to be. So she changed. O'Faolain's life is nothing like mine - not even remotely like mine. She's Irish. She suffered as a child from the neglect of a drunken mother. She's never been married, has no children. She earned her living being a journalist. She's not really athletic, and that doesn't bug her. One of the few things we have in common is that we both love dogs. But she also goes for cats, which I can take or leave. And yet so much of what she wrote resonated, spoke to me, got me to say right out loud, "Yea, wow, that's it." It's a wonderful read for anyone who thinks it's too late for ... well, for anything. O'Faolain shows that it's never too late. We've all suffered, physically and emotionally. Some more than others, Nuala more than I. But she demonstrates that there is always a way to strike out on a different path if you are willing to work at it. And though it's not easy, there's progress, not always in a hurriedly straight line, but it's there and it's substantial.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gwen A Orel on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Nuala O'Faolain is completely frank and honest without sacrificing elegant prose... sa memoirist unconcerned with image. Her experiences take on a universal quality--I'm not a fifty-something Irish writer whose parents were miserable together (one cold, the other alcoholic) when not being charming. Yet in her descriptions of fear, loneliness, hope I find myself feeling singing "she's killing me softly with her song."
This is no feel-good "How I overcame bad times" memoir in which the heroine is homeless/battered/deathly ill but survives "with a little help from my friends." Nuala recounts successes, mistakes, bad judgement, anger, joy without ever portraying herself as a victim. And the result is that her story lands in your gut.
Few writers would admit worrying about the cat being lonely if she went out for an evening-- they'd be too self-conscious and worry about looking pathetic. Not Nuala. The result is that she wins us over utterly.
This book opens with a great deal more joy than her other books (the wonderful memoir Are You Somebody? and the novel My Dream of You). She recounts with wonder the unexpected success of her memoir and the opportunities it brought her-- the waves of approval from TV talk-show audiences, the trip to New York where she met Frank McCourt, the money. But it didn't ultimately protect her heart from a painful end to a long-standing lesbian relationship, a one-sided affair with a married man, and a troubled relationship with a man she met on line, whose little girl Nuala had to struggle not to resent.
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