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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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My Dream of You Paperback – February 5, 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nuala O'Faolain's My Dream of You takes the old feminist adage one step further: the personal is invariably political in this exquisite first novel, while its politics feel very personal indeed. The heroine, Kathleen de Burca, is an Irish travel writer living in London. Estranged from her homeland and her family, pushing 50 but still living in the same dingy basement flat that's been her home for two decades, Kathleen's is a life gone "even and dry." Love has been her traditional panacea: "I believed in passion the way other people believed in God: everything fell in place around it." But the only love that comes her way these days takes the form of grim, anonymous sex--and even that grows harder to find.

Oddly enough, it's history--her own, and Ireland's--that brings Kathleen back to life. Shattered by a close friend's death, she leaves her job and London to immerse herself in a 150-year-old divorce case. In 1849, according to court documents, the Anglo-Irish landowner Richard Talbot divorced his wife because she committed adultery with their ragged Irish groom. Or did she? The book Kathleen imagines writing about the affair is a classic tale of passion--yet her research turns up a more complicated story, even as love once again makes inroads into her own life.

My Dream of You shares some of the same preoccupations as O'Faolain's bestselling memoir Are You Somebody?: a distant and loveless family life, the plight of Irish women. But it's the historical narrative that gives Kathleen's story both context and shape, juxtaposing the affair inside the demesne walls with the famine outside. The excerpts from her "Talbot Book" are searing in their intensity, studded with images of great beauty and unimaginable suffering. Some readers might in fact wish the book's balance tipped even further in the Talbot direction. Then, however, we might miss the author's heartbreakingly nuanced portrait of Kathleen's loneliness:

It was never real excitement that got you into bed; it was hope, like some stubborn underground weed. Look at the way you've believed every time, at the first brush of a hand across a breast, that the roof over your life was sliding back and a dazzling, starry firmament was just coming into view.
The suffering of Irish peasants during the famine might be a grander subject than a solitary woman's search for passion. Yet one is as real as the other. In the Irish experience, as in Kathleen de Burca's, the movements of history leave ghostly tracks across individual lives. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Well-known Irish newspaper columnist O'Faolain made a splash in 1998 with the publication of her unsentimental yet poignant memoir. The essential themes and many details of her evocatively atmospheric first novel will be familiar to readers of Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman. Expatriate Irishwoman Kathleen de Burca, an unmarried, middle-aged travel writer, lives in a dreary basement flat in London. Although she is professionally successful, her quest for passion has devolved into a series of increasingly rare one-night stands. She justifies the unsatisfying nature of her relationships by characterizing herself as "a generous woman." When her best friend dies of a heart attack, Kathleen decides to quit her job and write the book she has been contemplating for years. She returns to Ireland, where she immerses herself in research into an 1856 divorce case involving an alleged affair between Mrs. Talbot, the wife of an Anglo-Irish landowner, and William Mullan, their servant. Kathleen is also discovering truths about herself, her family and her country as she (like Mrs. Talbot) confronts the dilemma of whether to seize what may be her last chance for love and passion, albeit with a married man. O'Faolain's novel-within-a-novel device effectively mirrors one of the author's themes, the ultimate unknowability of a past always viewed through the lens of the present. The humor, honesty and moral seriousness with which Kathleen assesses her life and the conditions of her heart and her soul acquire a moving resonance as the imagined lives of her characters achieve resolution and her own life flowers into another phase. And O'Faolain's depiction of the west of Ireland during and just after the Famine surpasses any historical recitation of the "facts." (Feb. 19) Forecast: O'Faolain's memoir was a bestseller, and the 125,000-copy first printing and 17-city author tour scheduled for the novel anticipate another run on the lists for the Irish author. Foreign rights have been sold in the U.K., Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. BOMC and QPB alternates.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 529 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1St Edition edition (February 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573229083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573229081
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A phrase you see on a lot of back-cover-blurbs is that a book is like "Possession." I've always wondered what that meant -that the novel delivers the same kind of engrossing, teasing literary thrill that A.S. Byatt's novel did, or does it mix a modern tale with one placed in the past? Usually it's the latter, with the touted book offering a disappointing shadow of the satisfaction given by Byatt's book.
Nuala O'Faolain charged on the literary scene several years ago with "Are You Somebody?" which intrigued a lot of readers. Her first novel, "My Dream of You" meets everyone's expectations. It is like "Possession" in that it is completely engrossing, teasing, thrilling, moving, and yes, it does include a story rooted in the past. But then, for the Irish, so much is rooted in the past.
Kathleen de Burca is a travel writer whose carefully chaotic life is thrown in to real disorder by the loss of her dearest friend and retirement. She goes back to Ireland to research a novel on a story that's always intrigued her about an English lady's alleged affair with her Irish stableman during the Famine. Her return to the country of her birth brings her back to the land of her wretched childhood, but also throws her into a love affair which turns her upside down.
The characters are so well drawn that it's hard to believe they're not really in the library or behind the bar or in the shop where Kathleen meets them. Ireland, with its rich, conflictive history and wonderful contrary people comes across in all its complexities. Kathleen's physical and spiritual journey is completely involving, and this book lingers long after you've turned the last page.
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Format: Hardcover
The title of this book might lead you to think that you're in for a good soppy holiday romance, and that's exactly what I thought I was buying as I headed off to the sun. Very quickly into My Dream of You, I realised that I had lucked onto something far more sophisticated and special. What a great book. The main character of the book, Kathleen, finds her life rocked after the death of her closest friend. Unsure of how to proceed with her life she throws herself into a project of investigating an ancient Irish love affair and in the process finds herself discovering some truths about herself. A gripping read - lets hope Nuala O'Faolain writes a second novel.
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Format: Hardcover
Reviews of this book are somewhat mixed, but most acknowledge that Nuala O'Faolain writes so well that even if a reviewer didn't like this, her first novel, there is still an urge to read her nonfiction "Are You Somebody?"
After reading and falling in love with "The Red Tent," I was certain it was unfair to read and review this book set in modern times, with an imperfect female protagonist reluctantly turning 50. But although quite different from the other novel, this is also a story to tenderly love, especially if the reader is a 50-something woman who's made significant mistakes and has often been confused by love, intimacy and family life.
At 20, Kathleen fled to London, leaving her dysfunctional family in Ireland. Her distant mother, left behind, with a string of young children, abandons everyone by dying too young, while pregnant. Her father remarries a woman who has no love for any of the children. Sister Nora goes to New York; brother Dan finds solace in drinking but also with his own loving wife and daughter. The youngest child dies of a blood disease. Kathleen is left alone, on her own, separate from the loveless life of the de Burca family.
Of course, as she later comes to realize, one never really freely escapes; the attachments and lessens learned from home can follow you forever. She manages to create in her own life a detachment from almost everyone. In her search for love and approval, she destroys her first deep relationship while still in her early 20's. She can't seem to shake off her notion that sex and love are connected, that the former will lead her to the latter. Through her 20's, 30's and 40's she's found it impossible to turn down advances from men who find her very attractive, but not suitable for a long term relationship.
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Format: Hardcover
"My Dream of You" is a totally honest book, so much so that it hurts to read it. There is not one word that is wasted, there is not one thought that is not so pure, so well described, and so TRUE, that it causes the reader to stop breathing for a moment. O'Faolain's great talent is the way she draws the reader in to worlds that should be alien, but somehow feel familiar, eg, Ireland during the Famine. This talent was evident in her memoirs, and is equally strong in this fictional narrative that I suspect is drawn straight out of her own life. Indeed, it matches her memoirs in many aspects, and it is hard to remember that this is only a story. O'Faolain skillfully weaves together two narratives in this book--one tragic love story from the time of the Famine, and one very modern tale of a woman trying to come to grips with aging and all that implies, from the terror of losing her sexuality to the fear, felt for the first time, of being alone. The plot is secondary to the inner thoughts of this incredibly strong and independent woman, Kathleen, as she faces her own inner weaknesses. This is a book well worth reading, and keeping. It is one that I read very slowly, in order to savor every word.
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