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Edna O'Brien reading Edna O'Brien? What more could I want? Well, I got what I wanted: haunting evocation of inhibited Irish childhood, the bliss and despair of love, the mythology of landscape and of fame, all transmitted with her inimitable language and verve. And with the bonus of her own voice: breathy, snatched, occasionally scornful (often of herself), wry, and always lyrical.
What I had not expected was honesty about her weaknesses - her inability to withstand her husband's demand for her earnings, her near-suicide - and a political engagement which is scorching in its attack on the Catholic Church and which takes on the complexity of the Northern Irish Troubles.
The earlier parts, about her childhood and young womanhood, and the later about her ageing, are the most vivid; her mid-life of fame and friendship with all the glossy names of the film world perhaps less so - though I admit I'm a sucker for such stuff. (Connery, Brando, Gore Vidal, Jackie Onassis, anyone?) Her method is somehow restrained yet sumptuous: as she says, there's 'more this / that / the other...more everything.' One anecdote towards the end will illustrate: she's staying at Antonia and Harold's delightful place in Dorset, and there's talk of Jude Law dropping by to discuss a script. She must be in her 70s at the time. She hopes Jude won't come - he'd disrupt the equilibrium. She wants to swim in the pool, but hesitates because she can't swim; she needs arm-bands, and knows that when her arm-bands blow up they advertise NIVEA CREME. Lurking near the pool, hoping for it to empty, she realises that Jude Law is walking towards her. He is an Adonis. He simply walks over and, without a word, kisses her. Pure, wonderful Edna O'Brien.
A wonderful book, a luminous journey through the loves and conflicts of a single life which is many lives in one, and a landmark of restraint and honesty.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
An extraordinarily beautiful account of her life, losses and loves and so beautifully read by the author herself. Will listen to it again soon, already miss it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful