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The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue Paperback – May 1, 1987

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s a difficult trip, this coming of age.... O’Brien tells it with love and outrage, compassion and contempt.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Astonishing! Edna O’Brien is supremely talented.”
The Nation

“A TREASURE . . . POWERFUL. . . INTELLIGENT. . . IRONIC.”
New York Times Book Review

“HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. . . . O’Brien’s particular appeal is that she can be tender yet merciless, romantic yet grittily sexual. She resides admirably where quality and popular writing intersect.”
Booklist

“A UNIVERSAL STORY. . . . The spirit of youth, the search for love and the despair from disappointments come through clearly. . . . O’Brien’s sensitivity reaches into the very depths of these young

“MAGNIFICENT, EXUBERANT. . . as vivid as autobiography. . . rich, perfect. . . a strange brew of ecstatic abandon and morning-after sorrow.”
The Village Voice

“MAGICAL. . . two of the most wonderful heroines in modern fiction. . . impulsively romantic as it is resigned and wise.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

About the Author

Edna O'Brien is the internationally-acclaimed author of 18 books including Down by the River, The House of Splendid Isolation, Mother Ireland, The Country Girls Trilogy, and A Fanatic Heart (all available from Plume). Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in London.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Country Girls Trilogy
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452263948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452263949
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,954 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 96 people found the following review helpful By CherishRa on March 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I bought this book preparatory to a month in Ireland, as a mental/political exercise (aware of former banning). I couldn't put it down, and got three hours or less sleep for three nights in a row. I foisted it on my mom with warnings not to begin it on a weeknight, she got hooked on a Tuesday and went downhill too. We talked for days about how tightly written it was, how clean, spare, descriptive, full of foreshadowing, and painful to any woman who knows what it is to be centally disappointed by a man. Yet the book never whines, it never pushes itself sobbing on your shoulder. It sits in dignity with sadness.
Very quietly and methodically tragic, in the Irish way that says you do not whine about tragedy, you do not make fuss of it, you just simply pray a bit and go on. What makes the book so very valuable and unusual is that it applies the Irish knack for storytelling and forthright 'un-tragic' tragedy to women's lives and women's stories. It is both an Irish book full of water and woodsmoke, and a women's book in all its painful honesty and revelatory grace.
Please read.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you happen to think that being Irish would be just the nicest cosiest thing in the world, and you want to keep thinking that, then don't read this book. If you want to read a genuine unputdownable masterpiece, though, and laugh and cry your way from the first page to the last, then go for it.
I might also add, though, that if you're a husband, like me, it's only fair to warn you that this book will search your conscience pretty thoroughly.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth T. Johnson on February 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
i heard an interview with edna o'brien on npr's FRESH AIR and was impressed with her style. i read the trilogy because of the interview, not because of the Ireland component. this book is poignant, funny, sincere, a page-turner, and honest. i keep looking at the copyright date and not believing that it was written years ago. this book is a definite breath of fresh air!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Beth Quinn Barnard on October 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
For the longest time, I didn't get Edna O'Brien. Her writing was so highly praised, but I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. Her characters were all so repressed and their interactions so brittle that I found her stories difficult to get into and generally boring. But as I embarked on my ongoing Irish tear, I was determined to try again. This time I had no trouble becoming interested in Kate and her childhood friend Baba or their lives in rural Ireland, in convent school and in Dublin. Ireland in the 1950s was extremely repressed, which is one reason this book was banned. But its portrait of a place and a people seems spot on. I think of this novel as a fictional twin of John McGahern's memoir All Will Be Will, which covers the same time period from a man's perspective. For Irish-Americans raised on sentimental songs and movies about the old sod, O'Brien's fiction is an important corrective. She is an excellent writer of spare but evocative prose. The Country Girls is the first novel of a trilogy, and I look forward to completing the set.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Adriannah on September 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The trilogy of three self contained novels features two Irish country girls, Baba (Bridget) and Caithleen (Kate) from teenage schooldays through marriages and beyond. the novel is a very well rounded view of vulnerable women and their relationships with men, as fathers, boyfriends, priests etc and husbands. We see a satirical picture through Baba's eyes. Baba is a survivor, and great fun, but rash and impulsive. Through Kate we see beautiful, lyrical prose about the Irish countryside, and we see the pathos of her mother's marriage, where mother and daughter are both victims of domestic violence, and have no love or respect, as a result, for Kate's drunken father. The third book, Girls in Their Married Bliss, was banned for many years in Ireland because of its realistic picture of relationships of husbands and wives, in Ireland, and elswehere, no doubt. I like the trilogy because of Baba's acid sparkling wit, which often packs a lot of truth, complemented by Kate's beautiful dreamy descriptions, and expression of her feelings, and a lingering sense of pathos. She could be seen as weak character, or as some one damaged by an irresponsible, drunken, abusive father. Baba can seem flippant and heartless,but she always rallys to help Kate, where needed, and they get into both amusing and pathetic situations. Baba's sharp wit balances Kate's dreamy lyricism. I think women and men should read the trilogy, and pause, maybe with nostalgia, to think about relationships generally, with friends, lovers, partners and family, and gain a deeper insight. The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (Plume)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Catherine B. Gibbens on June 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Country Girls Trilogy is an interesting take on Irish sociology. As a woman of Irish descent, I could relate to the stultifying atmosphere of the Catholic church which both controls by guilt and conformity. The nuns at the convent exemplify this, as well as the visit from Caithleen's father and priest after her escape to her lover's home.

The second and third parts of the trilogy continue with Caithleen's eventual marriage and motherhood in the same vein. She never really becomes capable of decision making. Her melancholy persona becomes even more so, and by the end of the three books, her story becomes rather tedious. It ends, "not with a cry, but a whimper."

All in all, I liked the first book of the trilogy the best; each book following became more and more laborious to read. At the end I had invested so much time that I had to finish it.
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