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Hood Paperback – July 1, 1998

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I'm blithering, amn't I?" asks Pen O'Grady, narrator of Donoghue's second novel (after Stir-Fry). Many readers will answer "yes"?and that's a shame, because behind Pen's banal chattiness lies an agreeable and affecting story. Thirty-year-old Dublin schoolteacher Pen has just lost her lover of 13 years, Cara Wall, in a car crash. Though mapping the trajectory of Pen's grief seems Donoghue's primary aim, she also explores issues untouched by death: Will Pen bed Cara's sexy older sister, Kate, who's flown home from America for the funeral? Will Pen find the courage to come out to her mother and to Cara's father? Quotidian tails of housecleaning and coffee-brewing share space, sometimes too much, with tender and troubling flashbacks of life with the flame-haired, faithless Cara, whom Pen first seduced on their convent-school roof. Donoghue's unsentimental examination of the complex relationship between the two women is a pleasure, but the story line, lacking dramatic tension, ultimately sags under the weight of Pen's wordiness. U.K., translation, dramatic rights: Caroline Davidson, London.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Hood is a tale of love between two Catholic women in Dublin, Ireland--a country in which homosexuality still largely dares not speak its name openly. Cara's sudden death at 30 leaves bereaved Penelope shocked, grieving, reliving their 14-year relationship, which Donoghue covers in a series of overlapping flashbacks, from the time the two met in convent school in the late seventies to the early nineties, when they lived together in Cara's father's home. Funeral preparations and postburial returns to "normalcy" alternate with Pen's recollections of the moody, tempestuous Cara. These memories include screamingly good sex muffled from Cara's father's ears; Cara's repeated forays into other women's and men's beds; day-to-day routines the two shared, including Cara's maddening habit of asking life's larger questions as they drift to sleep at night; and, most important, Pen's development into a coping but vulnerable adult. Although some may find it slow, others will consider this love story that well conveys the complexities and nuances of intimate relationships stately and elegiac. Whitney Scott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555834531
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555834531
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,209,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the bestselling "Slammerkin," "The Sealed Letter," "Landing," "Life Mask," "Hood," and "Stirfry." Her story collections are "The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits," "Kissing the Witch," and "Touchy Subjects." She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two small children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By K. Pedigo on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I initially picked up this book because I had enjoyed another of Emma Donoghue's novels, Room. This is different from Room, but in the best way imaginable.

Donoghue displays a style of writing that is intriguing, her sentences becoming as much a part of the plot and story as the story itself. How Pen thinks is exactly what makes her such an interesting character. I'm blown away by how methodically Donoghue shows us this woman in what is potentially the worst week of her life.

The story is about a closeted teacher, Pen, who loses her lover unexpectedly. It is about moving on, about finding yourself, and also about their relationship, how it could be stifling and stimulating at the same time. I tend to enjoy books of this nature, that place us in a moment of tragedy and allow us time to stew in it--in this case the whole novel.

I read a lot, and this book has stuck with me. I still think about Hood when I'm reading other things, and I have a feeling it will stick with me for years to come. Highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Deka on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Absorbing and intense, this novel goes far beyond typical "coming-out" literature. Set in Dublin in the 80's, Hood follows the main character Pen (thirties, a teacher) through the week following her lover's death. Jealousy, intimacy, passion, shame and even humor: it's all here as we experience the grieving process with an invisible widow. Grief is not a quick phase and so the book may at times feel weighty and a little slow-moving. But stick with it -- and you won't have to make yourself do that for long -- for Emma Donoghue's delicate and deft prose will pull you back in. You may even find yourself as I did: coming back to read Hood again and again. In the end, this is a book about indentity and finding hope -- not in spite of, but through, one's pain.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Whenever I encounter a novel with homosexual themes, I usually roll my eyes. You can predict what's going to happen most of the time: the two fall in love, they disagree about coming out/ one gets beat up/ they have to hide/ etc., they are pulled apart, then they come back together against all odds and love overcomes all.
All except death. This novel is great because, for the most part, this is not the plot. Cara's death has nothing to do with her sexuality, and besides having to explain her relation to Cara, Pen's grieving is the grieving of anyone who has lost someone close. This is not about lesbians (although they are the main characters); it's about love and grief and living through that grief, no matter what sexual orientation you are.
I definitely reccomend it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Valerie K. Miller on February 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Penelope and Cara, the protagonists of this novel, share many attributes. They are both lesbians, feminists, dubliners, schoolmates, friends, and lovers. There are two very enormous differences between them though and it's these differences, sprinkled between the similarities, that make this novel ring so true and devastating and joyous: one (pen)is loyal and cara is not. And pen is alive, while cara has just died in one of those "who would've thought " car accidents that seem to strike with terrifying random and frequency.

While lesbianism and it's resulting feminism in 80's Ireland are certainly vibrant issues in this book, Donoghue imparts each character with such stunning humanity that anyone with a heart and a lover will recognize their struggles and their tragedies, not to mention their triumphs. And though the sex scenes are honest and intense, they don't read like a guidebook-they are filled with passion. And that passion is both heightened and irrevocably intensified, because the reader meets these two after one of them has left the living.

Donoghue also paints the five different stages of grief with a deft, empathetic hand, weaving between past and present and never staying on either too long, she introduces the reader to Cara by inches, while taking her away from Pen by degrees. Pen's struggle to get through her daily life while wrestling with the more esoteric demands of bereavement will be recognized by anyone who has experienced a sudden loss. And though Donoghue never lets the reader or Pen judge Cara too harshly, she let's cara be a three dimentional being, even in death, i.e. she never let's her be a saint or a ghost.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Linz on August 11, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read this book many times, and at times it makes me sob with bitter sadness, and at other times it makes me laugh out loud. The writing is exquisite; the bathtub scene (Pen's memory of a peaceful time with her and her recently deceased lover) captures perfectly what the essence of love is. It's beautiful. The frustration that Pen feels at having to keep silent about her partner's death (because she works at a Catholic school and because she lives in Ireland) transmits frustration to the readers as well -- but not in that hokey, "oh being a lesbian is so hard" preachy way. It is Pen's evolution as she learns to cope with Cara's death and to face certain truths she didn't want to deal with previously. I also believe that it is a beautiful love story but in a realistic way - the main characters are not perfect, yet their love is so intense. It's not a "romance" -- it's a real-life, complex love story. I haven't been as big a fan of Donoghue's other novels so far, but this one stands out as exceptional for its writing, story line and character development. Read Hood -- with a box of tissues nearby.
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