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Bonne écoute !
Caithleen and Baba, first encountered in The Country Girls, are now living in Dublin, where they discuss men, drink gin, and try to look fast. Cait, in the pursuit of true love, becomes involved with the fanatically domineering Eugene Gaillard. Painful disillusion and occasional moments of bliss in her life make this a bittersweet tale, and it is told with all the perception and wit that is the hallmark of Edna O’Brien.
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the author does a great job as narrator
I made the mistake of reading this one without first reading The Country Girls and do think that I would have enjoyed in more had I read the books in order. The trilogy was banned in Ireland when first published and reading it nearly 60 years later I can understand why. These girls broke the rules of Catholic 1950s Ireland. O'Brien attacks the repressive, and dogmatic Catholic world in which she was raised.
In The Lonely Girl our narrator is Kate who is now a young woman living in Dublin with her friend. They have left behind their small village home. Though the village mentality (nosy people spreading gossip about each other) comes through on it pages. The young women are loving city life and enjoy going out meeting young men, flirting, dancing and drinking. Kate meets Eugene, who is older than her and divorced. His wife is still alive so the church considers them to still be married. Kate moves in with Eugene. All of this is considered a sin. It is a 'path to moral damnation.'
O'Brien attacks the hypocrisy of the church at the time, but doesn't try to make Kate look too sweet and innocent. I like the honesty of it. She allows the reader to see where Kate errors. She allows us to see a girl who acts stupidly and is too naive. But whom among us hasn't. She was a young girl and O'Brien is showing us that these are her mistakes to make and she shouldn't be judged, tormented or shunned for them.
I spent my life until recently as a member of a very restrictive and judgmental church. And, despite the fact that I am 57 (the same age as this book) not a lot has changed in some church communities.
I enjoyed the book and will certainly go back to read the first book before moving on to the third.
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- Steve M
Beautiful Sequel to The Country Girls
This is another moving, deeply felt novel about the characters O'Brien introduced in The Country Girls. This time around, it's a love story that takes the narrator through a relationship with an older, divorced man. Given the time (1950's) and location (Ireland) she faces massive disapproval from family and others, including violence/
O'Brien is fantastically vivid. Her descriptions of people, landscapes, and houses are full of detail and emotional resonance. I found this novel slightly more sentimental than the first and some of the narrator's romantic longings seemed overwrought. However, it is a powerful book overall.
O'Brien read this with so much feeling and urgency, the listener is transported. Impossible to imagine anyone reading it more compellingly.
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Edna, please give me some closure!
I listened to The Country Girls and enjoyed Edna's descriptions of growing up in rural Ireland because my mother grew up much the same way and it was as if my mother was telling the story. The story is told by the author and her accent is much like my mother's as well. What was frustrating with the first book is that it had no end and left the reader wanting to know what happened to the two young girls in Dublin. I was delighted to see a sequel to the first book and downloaded it immediately only to find it has ended the same way...poor Cait is once again left wondering and sad. My guess is that the publisher took one long book and divided it into three (let's hope it is just three!) books. Enough now, give us an ending!
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