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Mother Ireland: A Memoir Paperback – March 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 and up
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452280508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452280502
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edna O'Brien, the author of "The Country Girls" Trilogy, "The Light of Evening," and "Byron in Love," is the recipient of the James Joyce Ulysses Medal, and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ireland is a woman-- womb, cave, bride, harlot, hag-- so, paraphrased, does Edna O'Brien begin her memoir. It is hard to believe this vibrant, lyrical reminiscence of growing up Irish has been out of print for years. O'Brien has created a personal odyssey in seven episodes out of the mystery and mists of Irish life, weaving it into its history and its mythology. Mother Ireland is comparable to Joyce's little books, Dubliners and Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man, in its command and integration of language and spirit. It dances with words, sensuality and the wondrous imagery, juxtaposed against the ever prevalent and monolithic Church and violence in this society. This is a treasure that imbues a unique touch and colouration -- feminine and mystical, earthy and spectral-- into the literary tradition of Ireland's small books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
I wonder how many readers picked up this innocuous-looking little book thinking it to be another shamrock-bedecked little souvenir from the dear old island. It's coruscating and ambitious. Edna O'Brien eviscerates the sacred cows and spatters the pages with their carcasses. This is from a now-obliterated Ireland of only three decades ago, but much of it reads as if a hundred years ago at least. The opening chapter, in which she narrates the mythic and the historical origins of Ireland, dazzled me with its accomplished polyphony. The photos are typical, I suppose, of the sort that any reader will have before seen, but the captions and the comments that O'Brien appends deserve attention, as do the unfortunately uncredited excerpts from readings that she scatters throughout, especially that of the visit to the Garda (police) house full of drunken men in uniform that is cooly set down in prose out of another O'Brien, pen name Flann.

The only let-down from this was its unevenness. As the book progresses, it reveals more an uncertain tone. Later chapters feel to me unsure of what O'Brien or the editors meant them to convey: autobiography? travelogue? social analysis? memoirs? They gradually coalesce loosely into an account of her own maturity and flight to London from Dublin from the Co Limerick village where she was raised, and are worthwhile, but they do make for quite a change from the opening chapters.

A good follow-up from two decades later would be, if read with a considerable amount of grains of salt, Rosemary Mahoney's "Whoredom in Kimmage: Irish Women Come of Age." The jump from these scenes in 1976 to those in 1994 is amazing, and these have only accelerated since Mahoney's stops. Today's unrecognizably permissive Irish cultural shifts would not have been possible without such as Edna O'Brien, who like Flann O'B, mixed satire and bitterness with affection and pride in the people of their stubborn island.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sunny Miami on February 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Excellent book. A warm intellectual stream, poetry really. O'Brien writes impressionistically of the history, and her memories of Ireland. Have a glass of wine, and read it through once: a very pleasurable task.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was missing so much information- seemed like a private diary. I followed it up with Country Girl written in Ms. O'Bian's later years with greater detail.
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