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A treasure of world literature back in print, featuring a new introduction by Eimear McBride The country girls are Caithleen “Kate” Brady and Bridget “Baba” Brennan, and their story begins in the repressive atmosphere of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a survivor. Setting out to co A treasure of world literature back in print, featuring a new introduction by Eimear McBride The country girls are Caithleen “Kate” Brady and Bridget “Baba” Brennan, and their story begins in the repressive atmosphere of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a survivor. Setting out to conquer the bright lights of Dublin, they are rewarded with comical miscommunications, furtive liaisons, bad faith, bad luck, bad sex, and compromise; marrying for the wrong reasons, betraying for the wrong reasons, fighting in their separate ways against the overwhelming wave of expectations forced upon "girls" of every era.The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue charts unflinchingly the pattern of women’s lives, from the high spirits of youth to the chill of middle age, from hope to despair, in remarkable prose swinging from blunt and brutal to whimsical and lyrical. It is a saga both painful and hilarious, and remains one of the major accomplishments of Edna O’Brien’s extraordinary career.This omnibus edition includes the novels The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in Their Married Bliss.


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A treasure of world literature back in print, featuring a new introduction by Eimear McBride The country girls are Caithleen “Kate” Brady and Bridget “Baba” Brennan, and their story begins in the repressive atmosphere of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a survivor. Setting out to co A treasure of world literature back in print, featuring a new introduction by Eimear McBride The country girls are Caithleen “Kate” Brady and Bridget “Baba” Brennan, and their story begins in the repressive atmosphere of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a survivor. Setting out to conquer the bright lights of Dublin, they are rewarded with comical miscommunications, furtive liaisons, bad faith, bad luck, bad sex, and compromise; marrying for the wrong reasons, betraying for the wrong reasons, fighting in their separate ways against the overwhelming wave of expectations forced upon "girls" of every era.The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue charts unflinchingly the pattern of women’s lives, from the high spirits of youth to the chill of middle age, from hope to despair, in remarkable prose swinging from blunt and brutal to whimsical and lyrical. It is a saga both painful and hilarious, and remains one of the major accomplishments of Edna O’Brien’s extraordinary career.This omnibus edition includes the novels The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in Their Married Bliss.

30 review for The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue: (The Country Girl; The Lonely Girl; Girls in Their Married Bliss; Epilogue)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    The smartest and most hilarious possible response to the catastrophe of being born female in the rural west of Ireland at mid-century. The trilogy actually encompasses three books – The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in Their Married Bliss. They follow the highly intelligent but spacy Caithleen and her forcefully self-centered “best” friend Baba on a trajectory that huge numbers of Irish women’s lives took during those decades – from farm to convent school to Dublin and finally into Lo The smartest and most hilarious possible response to the catastrophe of being born female in the rural west of Ireland at mid-century. The trilogy actually encompasses three books – The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in Their Married Bliss. They follow the highly intelligent but spacy Caithleen and her forcefully self-centered “best” friend Baba on a trajectory that huge numbers of Irish women’s lives took during those decades – from farm to convent school to Dublin and finally into London. The books make no claims, however, as to their representative status. Instead, the first two books stay scrupulously grounded in the consciousness of Caithleen, our first-person narrator, who proves a good story teller, if a bad interpreter of what precisely the story means. All sorts of men crowd themselves into the orphaned Caithleen’s life, and part of the first novel’s tension comes from the judgments the reader will inevitably make about who might help Kate out and who might do her ill: judgments Caithleen seems unable to form for herself. But by the second book we’ve been served notice that our Jane-Eyre-inflected fantasies of upward mobility skew OUR perception quite badly, and it becomes apparent what Caithleen needs the chain-smoking, good-time-grabbing, light-me-a-cigarette-will-ya Baba for. What seems like Baba’s destruction of Caithleen’s chances to “make something of herself” in the first book is decidedly revealed in the second book as a narrow escape. I was a bit apprehensive about the third book, which abandons Caithleen’s first-person narration for chapters that, when dealing with Caithleen, are written with an elegant third-person omniscience, and when dealing with Baba, are written in Baba’s voice. The Baba chapters are among the funniest in a very funny trilogy. The Caithleen chapters are a bit sad – not just because the content is sad, but because the author can no longer imagine Caithleen speaking for herself about what it’s like to be Caithleen. At some point Edna O’Brien escaped being Caithleen by becoming a world-famous author. That she doesn’t lazily award Caithleen the same ending is to her credit. That she can only approach Caithleen from the outside, using the compensations of her own much more worldly voice to bring her near us suggests something about Caithleen – or thousands of women like her – that got lost for good. At the very end of the trilogy, Baba finds Kate reading “a newspaper article about women who for the purpose of scientific experiment had volunteered to spend a fortnight in an underground cave. Kate read: ‘Doctors in touch by telephone from an adjacent cave continue to be astonished at the physical resilience and lively spirits of the women, who were unknown to each other before the vigil began.’” And that’s pretty much what the entire trilogy is about – listening in from another cave, and discovering that even when buried underground, smothered in dark, small spaces, women keep chattering and laughing and carrying on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wilhelmina Jenkins

    Reading this trilogy was an interesting experience for me because I read the first two books, The Country Girls and The Lonely Girl, as a teenager back in the '60s. In my opinion, those two books held up very well. Kate and Baba are best friends, although Baba frequently treats Kate, the more scholarly and sensitive girl, quite unkindly. Ultimately, the girls, later women, are the constant factor in each other's lives. Searching for a life beyond their restrictive small town life and convent sch Reading this trilogy was an interesting experience for me because I read the first two books, The Country Girls and The Lonely Girl, as a teenager back in the '60s. In my opinion, those two books held up very well. Kate and Baba are best friends, although Baba frequently treats Kate, the more scholarly and sensitive girl, quite unkindly. Ultimately, the girls, later women, are the constant factor in each other's lives. Searching for a life beyond their restrictive small town life and convent school, they escape to Dublin and seek happiness in their relationships with men. By the third book, Girls in their Married Bliss, they are attempting to live with their poor choices and deal with the unhappy consequences. This book, in my opinion, is the least successful of the three. If I had read the third book as a stand-alone, I do not think that I would have enjoyed it at all. Sandwiched between Lonely Girl and the epilogue, however, it adds to the understanding of these women and the difficult lives they have chosen. I found the Epilogue to be touching and heartbreaking. I would recommend reading these books all of the way through the epilogue to obtain the complete picture that O'Brien presents of the intertwined lives of these women.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yulia

    What a roller coaster this put me on. While reading it, I was sincerely frightened for the characters and for my own fate in life, I pounded the pillow in helpless distress and needed to be comforted by Frank that, if it made me feel so much, she must be doing something right. But it was agony, not beautiful agony, but masochistic, call-your-therapist agony. The pain it induced was more than I'd bargained for. As I approached the end, I thought, this is a work I want to own, to add to my colecti What a roller coaster this put me on. While reading it, I was sincerely frightened for the characters and for my own fate in life, I pounded the pillow in helpless distress and needed to be comforted by Frank that, if it made me feel so much, she must be doing something right. But it was agony, not beautiful agony, but masochistic, call-your-therapist agony. The pain it induced was more than I'd bargained for. As I approached the end, I thought, this is a work I want to own, to add to my colection while is already filled in terms of shelf space. This is a book I can't forget and don't want to, like a tragic ending to the closest friendship of my life. And just an hour after finishing it, it felt as if a pillowcase that had been blinding me had been lifted. IO saw everything more clearly. How could O'Brien put me through such pain? Did she realize there was not one sympathetic male character in her entire trilogy (excepting Snowie perhaps)? Did she want women to call of romance and seek only the comfort of female friendships? Was life truly such a lost cause? Was there nothing to be gained or learned from our experiences? And now I'm left feeling deceived by her, as if I'd been caught up in a man-hating cult of abandoned women who still craved their drug. This book was torture, good torture, then cruel torture, then unnecessary torture. I want my grounding on reality back. May no single woman in search of true companionship read this book. May no woman in a failing relationship read this, either. May no man waste his time on it. No, this book didn't end up a failure. It was sentimental, but saved by its humor, and deeply moving as only a roller coaster that has been derailed can move you. Looking back on this destabilizing half-week experience in which I could do nothing but read this book or worry about reading on, for fear I would be further traumatized, I remember now who it was whore assured me as I cried in hopelessness or went into a panic. Yes, it was my partner, a concept that O'Brien's characters cannot fathom in this chronicle. What I'm left with is a love-hate relationship. I hate this book for torturing me as it did, but I love it for invoking such strong feelings. Thank goodness there is life outside this trilogy. If this were an accurate portrayal of human relations, I think I'd kill myself. But my fault was in over-identifying with the literate and romantic Caithleen, even as she proceeds to lose her grip on reality. Warning: these characters are extremes. I wouldn't identify too closely with any if I could avoid it. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at dividing the literary world from the literal world. Good luck to readers and have a supportive partner or an excellent therapist should you choose to read this. I regret recommending it to my mother. Some lines I wanted to remember, for one reason or another (no use questioning their profundity): "He was only a shadow now, and I remembered him the way one remembers a nice dress that one has grown out of" (p. 179, not this edition) "I used to think of my life as a failure, purposeless . . . until I got older and became aware of things. I now know that the problem of life is not solved by success but by failure: struggle and achievement and failure, on and on" (p. 220). "He directed documentary pictures but was always buying leisure, as if in the course of leisure he must found what he had been ordained to do" (p. 391). "'Baba, why did you do it to me?' he said. Useless to say that I hadn't thought of him when I was doing it. Useless to say that I always thought your acquaintanceship with one person had nothing to do with another" (p. 471). "She closed her eyes on the thought that sleeping with a man was unimportant. A nothing, if nothing in the way of love preceded it. Or resulted from it" (p. 500).

  4. 4 out of 5

    D

    Three books and a short epilogue telling the sorry tale of two girls growing up as friends in theocratic rural Ireland, probably in the mid-1960's. Of course, religious belief played a big role in their misfortunes, messing up their decision making skills as adults. Still, it was hard to feel sympathy for any of them. Nevertheless, a very good en engrossing read that won't be easy to forget. Three books and a short epilogue telling the sorry tale of two girls growing up as friends in theocratic rural Ireland, probably in the mid-1960's. Of course, religious belief played a big role in their misfortunes, messing up their decision making skills as adults. Still, it was hard to feel sympathy for any of them. Nevertheless, a very good en engrossing read that won't be easy to forget.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I honestly don’t know what to say about this trilogy. I’m not even sure how I felt about it, really. I can’t say I loved these books, no; I didn’t love them. None of the characters were lovable, not even the main characters Baba and Caithleen. Yet I couldn’t help but care what happened to them. Even as I watched their lives spiral downwards, them make decision upon bad decision; nothing could’ve induced me to stop reading. It wasn’t like being unable to look away from a train wreck yet I suppose I honestly don’t know what to say about this trilogy. I’m not even sure how I felt about it, really. I can’t say I loved these books, no; I didn’t love them. None of the characters were lovable, not even the main characters Baba and Caithleen. Yet I couldn’t help but care what happened to them. Even as I watched their lives spiral downwards, them make decision upon bad decision; nothing could’ve induced me to stop reading. It wasn’t like being unable to look away from a train wreck yet I suppose it kind of was. (I’m not making any sense, I know.) The middle book, The Lonely Girl, was my favourite. The last book, Girls in their Married Bliss, was my least favourite, being the most painful to read. I can just imagine Edna O’Brien choosing that title with an ironic, bitter twist to her smile. The Epilogue was, in my opinion, completely unnecessary and I would’ve been happier without it. Especially since, though it was only 20 pages long, it contained 10 times the amount of expletives as the other 510 pages. I wish I was kidding. I don’t know why I was so drawn to these books! Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t hate them. As I said before, none of the characters were lovable. There was not a single good relationship in this book, not even in the strange friendship between Baba and Caithleen. The prose didn’t strike me as being particularly exceptional. Perhaps it was, though. At least, Edna O’Brien did a lovely job conjuring up the setting. Actually, I can see several scenes in my head as if I had just finished watching a film of it. There was something so oddly affecting about these books. Not touching, exactly. More distressing than anything. And even with the ache of these books fresh in my mind, I know I will be re-reading them someday in the future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Edna O'Brien catches the details of a culture and a period of time that seems to have occurred one hundred years ago rather than in the early 1960's. She writes with an honesty and lack of sentimentality that drew me into the story and the characters. My criticisms are all minor compared to those qualities. Edna O'Brien catches the details of a culture and a period of time that seems to have occurred one hundred years ago rather than in the early 1960's. She writes with an honesty and lack of sentimentality that drew me into the story and the characters. My criticisms are all minor compared to those qualities.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    This was a bookclub read, I liked the book however found it a bit far fetched. This book was banned in Ireland and therefore always had a bit of a mysterious edge to it, its an interesting story and a very good discussion book as it throws up lots topics that get people talking. Glad I read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emmkay

    Loved it. The trilogy consists of 3 novels - The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in their Married Bliss - and an epilogue, focusing on a pair of friends whom we first encounter as 14 year olds in a rural Irish village. I wondered if Elena Ferrante read these before writing the Neapolitan novels, because there were certainly similarities in the relationship between the two girls and in the acute social and gender commentary (but with more of a focus on the church as well in O’Brien). Bu Loved it. The trilogy consists of 3 novels - The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, and Girls in their Married Bliss - and an epilogue, focusing on a pair of friends whom we first encounter as 14 year olds in a rural Irish village. I wondered if Elena Ferrante read these before writing the Neapolitan novels, because there were certainly similarities in the relationship between the two girls and in the acute social and gender commentary (but with more of a focus on the church as well in O’Brien). But as the trilogy continues, it takes off in a bleak and bold direction in which (view spoiler)[ youthful dreams of maturation and escape fail to come to fruition, and the true constraints imposed on Kate and Baba are revealed (hide spoiler)] . I read it compulsively, powerful stuff.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue is a compilation of three novels that span the lives of two girls, from childhood through middle age, who were both rivals and friends in rural Ireland. The first of the three novels, The Country Girls introduces us to Caithleen and Baba. Caithleen is practically raised by a single mother, her father often drunk and absent, leaving them with little or no money most days, while Baba's father is good provider who comes home every night, even if the family isn The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue is a compilation of three novels that span the lives of two girls, from childhood through middle age, who were both rivals and friends in rural Ireland. The first of the three novels, The Country Girls introduces us to Caithleen and Baba. Caithleen is practically raised by a single mother, her father often drunk and absent, leaving them with little or no money most days, while Baba's father is good provider who comes home every night, even if the family isn't exactly a happy one. Together they go off to a convent school, Caithleen on scholarship, Baba out of jealousy. The second book in the set, Lonely Girls (more commonly known by the name Girl With Green Eyes), picks up where the first leaves off, in Dublin, where the girls are set to start their lives. They live together as boarders, Baba to attend school, and Caithleen working in a grocery. What they are really looking for though is freedom and men, rich if Baba has anything to say about it. The final book of the series, Girls In Their Married Bliss opens with both of the girls marriages, both of them seemingly getting exactly what they wanted. Yet nothing is ever as it seems, and life still has many surprises in store for both of them. Both the first and second book were told by Caithleen, later known as Kate, while the last of the trilogy and the epilogue are narrated by Baba. Kate was often ruled by her emotions, and though intelligent, she let her feelings blind her to common sense and reality. Baba is far more pragmatic; she is also brazen and bold, and in my opinion makes a far more interesting character, though Kate's story is richer. In the end, I quite enjoyed all of the books and I'm glad I read them together in one book, because I'm not sure that I would have made a point to continue soon after the first. Both The Country Girls and Girl With Green Eyes can be found on the list of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, though I actually enjoyed the last book far more. The story told in Married Bliss, while much darker, was more interesting and far richer. Yet, without the first two preceding it, it couldn't have been told. These are quintessential coming-of-age stories, both realistic and tragic, telling a story that unfolds every day, in every town and city.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    I've only read the first part so far; waiting for the complete edition from Amazon. O'Brien captures perfectly, in my opinion, the era and place she is concerned with. Not as downtrodden as "Angela's Ashes" by any means, but certainly far, far from sweetness and light. The pervading sadness and sense of claustrophobia subsuming the girls' lives struck me as true to life. The Catholic upbringing and the narrowness of the girls' options reflect my memories of those days pretty well. (Of course, we I've only read the first part so far; waiting for the complete edition from Amazon. O'Brien captures perfectly, in my opinion, the era and place she is concerned with. Not as downtrodden as "Angela's Ashes" by any means, but certainly far, far from sweetness and light. The pervading sadness and sense of claustrophobia subsuming the girls' lives struck me as true to life. The Catholic upbringing and the narrowness of the girls' options reflect my memories of those days pretty well. (Of course, we had many more options here in the U.S.)I was suprised a bit at others becoming so impatient with Cait and Baba's behaviors. I'm looking forward to seeing how their lives "turn out". Updated October 30, 2009: I finished the entire trilogy earlier this month; found that I had to go back and re-read the first section to refresh my memory and to get back into the "feel" of the story. Although there are many comical passages, the overwhelming sensation is one of depression and hopelessness. Even Baba, by far the more resiliant of the two girls, leads an unhappy life in an almost helpless sort of way. Well worth reading, if only to remind us of how far women have come in the intervening thirty years.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    As a trilogy, this was like going out for a big meal. The starter’s amazing, the main course is ho-hum, and you wish you hadn’t ordered dessert as well. ‘The country girls’ is a joy: sharp, witty, moving, and the characters are beautifully done, especially the ‘best friend’ Baba who is a controlling little bitch but gets some great lines. You can smell the fields and the tobacco-laden interiors and the endless whisky breath, and the teenage ennui and conflicting feelings, wanting excitement and As a trilogy, this was like going out for a big meal. The starter’s amazing, the main course is ho-hum, and you wish you hadn’t ordered dessert as well. ‘The country girls’ is a joy: sharp, witty, moving, and the characters are beautifully done, especially the ‘best friend’ Baba who is a controlling little bitch but gets some great lines. You can smell the fields and the tobacco-laden interiors and the endless whisky breath, and the teenage ennui and conflicting feelings, wanting excitement and rebellion and safety and comfort at the same time are done perfectly. ‘The lonely girl’ involves a lot of weeping and I got a bit bored, while ‘Girls in their married bliss’ was too bitter and cynical even for me. Couldn’t fault the writing, but the central character throwing herself at one dubious married man after another wore rather thin. Also, the great shock value these books had at the time of publication was centred on the scandalous idea of young women being interested in the pleasures of the flesh and not going to church. To my mind, the utter normality of endless predatory older men sniffing around two young teenage girls was far more shocking.

  12. 4 out of 5

    L.A.Weekly

    EDNA O'BRIEN: IRELAND'S OTHER LITERARY HEAVYWEIGHT By Jim Ruland O’Brien’s relationship with Ireland has always been a cantankerous one. Her first novel, The Country Girls, written in 1959 during a three-week frenzy, was condemned by the minister of culture as a “smear on Irish womanhood.” The book, which deals with the sexual awakening of a young woman from a small village in west Ireland, was promptly banned. As were her next eight novels. The problem? O’Brien writes about sex and its repercussio EDNA O'BRIEN: IRELAND'S OTHER LITERARY HEAVYWEIGHT By Jim Ruland O’Brien’s relationship with Ireland has always been a cantankerous one. Her first novel, The Country Girls, written in 1959 during a three-week frenzy, was condemned by the minister of culture as a “smear on Irish womanhood.” The book, which deals with the sexual awakening of a young woman from a small village in west Ireland, was promptly banned. As were her next eight novels. The problem? O’Brien writes about sex and its repercussions in a way that is graphic, frank and utterly unheard of in conservative, “priest-plagued” Ireland. Her first three novels follow the adventures of Caithleen and Baba as they flee their convent school in rural Ireland, find considerably older husbands in Dublin, and confront their failed marriages in London. Along the way, the girls conceive out of wedlock, have extramarital affairs and contract venereal disease. Read the rest of Jim Ruland's article on Edna O'Brien here: http://www.laweekly.com/art+books/boo...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ilse Wouters

    This book is the collection of 3 separate books which were published in the 1960s followed by an epilogue written in 1986, all dealing with the same main characters, Caithleen and Baba, from their childhood in the Irish countryside to their married years in London. The first 2 books are narrated by Caithleen, while the third one is told mainly from the perspective of Baba. I see here a lot of very high ratings for this book, but I have double feelings : on one hand, the books are clearly well wr This book is the collection of 3 separate books which were published in the 1960s followed by an epilogue written in 1986, all dealing with the same main characters, Caithleen and Baba, from their childhood in the Irish countryside to their married years in London. The first 2 books are narrated by Caithleen, while the third one is told mainly from the perspective of Baba. I see here a lot of very high ratings for this book, but I have double feelings : on one hand, the books are clearly well written, and I was eager to finish reading everything; on the other hand, I wasn´t too impressed - to say the least - by the main characters. It´s most likely the story told ressembles the life of quite a few Irish country girls mid-20th century (especially the differences according to gender), but I feel saddened by the fact that they ultimately seem to have ruined their own chances in life. The epilogue sort of confirms this, although I don´t think it was necessary to write the epilogue to clarify it all.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I tried to make it through this, I really did. I even made it to the third book. I got a little excited when I thought Baba was going to narrate, but when it went back to Kathleen, I was just DONE. Don't get me wrong, Baba is just as despicable as Kathleen, but for different reasons. I might have finished then. But no. We go back to Kathleen's drivel. She is a spineless, whiny, reprehensible person, her family is awful, her boyfriends are awful; ugh, I just could take no more. I gave it two star I tried to make it through this, I really did. I even made it to the third book. I got a little excited when I thought Baba was going to narrate, but when it went back to Kathleen, I was just DONE. Don't get me wrong, Baba is just as despicable as Kathleen, but for different reasons. I might have finished then. But no. We go back to Kathleen's drivel. She is a spineless, whiny, reprehensible person, her family is awful, her boyfriends are awful; ugh, I just could take no more. I gave it two stars because the story did hold my attention through two books.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Raluca

    It was a different time. I had to constantly remind myself that as I raged against what I saw as Kate and Baba allowing themselves to be trapped, controlled, and forever put down. It was a different time, and the novels do an exceptional job of capturing it. Closer in tone and style to The Bell Jar than any more modern coming-of-age stories, it kept me torn between wanting to rush ahead in (pointless) hope of some semblance of a happy ending, and not finding the strenght to face another bout of It was a different time. I had to constantly remind myself that as I raged against what I saw as Kate and Baba allowing themselves to be trapped, controlled, and forever put down. It was a different time, and the novels do an exceptional job of capturing it. Closer in tone and style to The Bell Jar than any more modern coming-of-age stories, it kept me torn between wanting to rush ahead in (pointless) hope of some semblance of a happy ending, and not finding the strenght to face another bout of misery. It hit me hard, and I'm gonna need something cheerful and silly to counter-balance it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jane M

    I was really excited about this book. There are some very dramatic review on here and I expected a story more along the lines of Half Broke Horse. This was just kind of boring and the main characters really had me not rooting for them much. I thought this was supposed to be a tale of girls bucking society/church norms by living and doing what they want, but these girls really didn't do much of anything. Guess I wanted a tale of strong women, but got a long drawn out "diary" about silly girls tha I was really excited about this book. There are some very dramatic review on here and I expected a story more along the lines of Half Broke Horse. This was just kind of boring and the main characters really had me not rooting for them much. I thought this was supposed to be a tale of girls bucking society/church norms by living and doing what they want, but these girls really didn't do much of anything. Guess I wanted a tale of strong women, but got a long drawn out "diary" about silly girls that never really seemed to have grown up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sonya

    The first and second novels of this trilogy follow Caithleen (Kate) from girlhood to her late teens as she observes her family life in the country as part of a poor family and slowly awakens to the joys and pains of life. She has a best friend named Baba who bullies Kate, and though she's bratty and brazen, Baba also provides Kate over the course of years with a stable and loving friend. Kate's father is a mean alcoholic and her mother is kind but weak. As the family breaks apart and Kate is fir The first and second novels of this trilogy follow Caithleen (Kate) from girlhood to her late teens as she observes her family life in the country as part of a poor family and slowly awakens to the joys and pains of life. She has a best friend named Baba who bullies Kate, and though she's bratty and brazen, Baba also provides Kate over the course of years with a stable and loving friend. Kate's father is a mean alcoholic and her mother is kind but weak. As the family breaks apart and Kate is first sent off to convent school and then tries to start an adult life in Dublin, she is always aware of natural beauty and the humanity inside odd and difficult people. Her love life takes over and things take a turn. She is initiated into adult behavior and falls in love with an older man and matures. But the third novel is a whiplashed departure from the tenderness of the first two. And because the point of view switches from first person to third (and some chapters from Baba's perspective), Kate's strong voice and ways of seeing the world are lost. As her character recedes into the narrative, so do her chances for happiness. As a whole, the three novels are beautiful and full of empathy for their characters. The novels were considered scandalous by Irish society and the Church, unsurprisingly, because O'Brien's stories prick the secretive oppressions of life during that post-War time and show what it was like for women. (I did not much like the epilogue, written in the 1980s.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maria Strale

    The best books so far this year! The three books are just brilliant! Although Neapel and Ireland are very different, these books give strong Ferrante vibes...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Allen

    Lots of people have chimed in on this classic, so I won't bore you. O'Brien manages two distinct voices in this trilogy. The third book is of course a bit of a surprise--but a good one. I think the genius of Country Girls is O'Brien's ability to give an innocent girl so much insight, so much vulnerability. She gives Caithleen so much understanding of the natural world while keeping her trembling at every human contact. Baba is the opposite: all mouth and no conscience. And it's a beautiful relat Lots of people have chimed in on this classic, so I won't bore you. O'Brien manages two distinct voices in this trilogy. The third book is of course a bit of a surprise--but a good one. I think the genius of Country Girls is O'Brien's ability to give an innocent girl so much insight, so much vulnerability. She gives Caithleen so much understanding of the natural world while keeping her trembling at every human contact. Baba is the opposite: all mouth and no conscience. And it's a beautiful relationship to experience. I see this evolving relationship as the modern Irish woman battling between her two selves. And it is no surprise which one wins. I will say that Caithleen would have been happy with Jack Holland. He is spiritually the man who might have made her happy, but of course she is only interested in a man's appearance. Interestingly, she is attracted to old, spent "sepulchres" of men: gaunt and tired (a metaphor for old patriarchal Ireland? Of course it is.) A masterpiece. Compelling at every turn.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda Aull

    This was just the kind of book(s) I've been yearning for. It's pretty melancholy, but I love any survival themes, especially friendships that survive through time. I understand that these are O'Brien's early works, and are harbingers of the good to come, so I am eager to read some of her more mature pieces. I've read many comments about the shift in narrator for the third book, but I really liked it and thought it was an authentic and refreshing change. Caithleen/Kate was so passive and completel This was just the kind of book(s) I've been yearning for. It's pretty melancholy, but I love any survival themes, especially friendships that survive through time. I understand that these are O'Brien's early works, and are harbingers of the good to come, so I am eager to read some of her more mature pieces. I've read many comments about the shift in narrator for the third book, but I really liked it and thought it was an authentic and refreshing change. Caithleen/Kate was so passive and completely non-assertive throughout the first two books that it was nearly a relief to hear from the forthright Baba. I liked Baba a lot and thought her voice was far more powerful than Kate's, and it seemed like she was a lot more fun to write. I'd recommend these books to anyone fascinated by the Irish, interested in the plight of women during the 60s and 70s (or repressed times, in general) or anyone having English-majory type tendencies.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I just read the first one - The Country Girls. I wasn't that into it. There were times that it felt like it was on the verge of something great, and then it would end up just disappointing. Like when Caithleen and Baba move to Dublin and they're just so full of youth and importance, renting out a little room, feeling like adults. And then they're going out with middle aged men and Caithleen is still inexplicably pining for old Mr. Gentleman and Baba never quite stops being a horrible person. And I just read the first one - The Country Girls. I wasn't that into it. There were times that it felt like it was on the verge of something great, and then it would end up just disappointing. Like when Caithleen and Baba move to Dublin and they're just so full of youth and importance, renting out a little room, feeling like adults. And then they're going out with middle aged men and Caithleen is still inexplicably pining for old Mr. Gentleman and Baba never quite stops being a horrible person. And then it had one of those endings that feels like someone ripped out the last 5 or 10 pages. I read the last sentence and turned the page...and nothing. That was it. I was left with nothing but the certainty that I would not continue reading this trilogy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This was an interesting three books plus epilogue. Not sure what to make of them, though. They were written in the 1960s and the epilogue was written in 1986. Different. Unique. Well written. But just different. I easily read it. Not sure if I exactly liked the two main characters, which maybe why I'm so ambivalent about this book. The four stories contained in this one book are The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, Girls In Their Married Bliss, and then the Epilogue. They follow two friends, Kate This was an interesting three books plus epilogue. Not sure what to make of them, though. They were written in the 1960s and the epilogue was written in 1986. Different. Unique. Well written. But just different. I easily read it. Not sure if I exactly liked the two main characters, which maybe why I'm so ambivalent about this book. The four stories contained in this one book are The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl, Girls In Their Married Bliss, and then the Epilogue. They follow two friends, Kate and Baba, through their life as young girls, going to school at a convent, escaping to Dublin, later to London, marriage, and children. If I would have to say, these are two sad people.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    I admire Edna O'Brien's writing and this book. Although I did not really like the main characters, kept me reading and wanting to get back to it when I wasn't. The women are pressed down by the culture of Ireland and the Church during this time and the men drink. Even when the men offer support as they did when Kate "escapes" (having been "kidnapped" by her father to save her (at age 21) because of her living with a still married man who has treated her pretty decently), these same men pursue he I admire Edna O'Brien's writing and this book. Although I did not really like the main characters, kept me reading and wanting to get back to it when I wasn't. The women are pressed down by the culture of Ireland and the Church during this time and the men drink. Even when the men offer support as they did when Kate "escapes" (having been "kidnapped" by her father to save her (at age 21) because of her living with a still married man who has treated her pretty decently), these same men pursue her with her father and brutalize her lover. Kate copes with a maddening passivity and Baba with manipulation. But,dang,the writing is brilliant.

  24. 5 out of 5

    gwen g

    I picked this book up after reading an interview with Edna O'Brien, who's still alive and well and writing in London. These were her first three books, and they were beautiful and depressing and full of longing and irony. I picked this book up after reading an interview with Edna O'Brien, who's still alive and well and writing in London. These were her first three books, and they were beautiful and depressing and full of longing and irony.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Phizacklea-Cullen

    A trilogy of books that it's fair to say set a firecracker under repressive, conservative Ireland in the 1960s and truly started giving 'Mna na hEireann' a voice on deciding their futures. The narrative reflects the maturity and evolution of Caithleen 'Kate' Brady and Bridget 'Baba' Brennan from rural melancholy at austere convent schools to first, painful love, independence in the big city and the disillusions of long-for maturity and worldliness. Of 'The Country Girls', 'The Lonely Girl' and t A trilogy of books that it's fair to say set a firecracker under repressive, conservative Ireland in the 1960s and truly started giving 'Mna na hEireann' a voice on deciding their futures. The narrative reflects the maturity and evolution of Caithleen 'Kate' Brady and Bridget 'Baba' Brennan from rural melancholy at austere convent schools to first, painful love, independence in the big city and the disillusions of long-for maturity and worldliness. Of 'The Country Girls', 'The Lonely Girl' and the sarcastically-titled 'Girls In Their Married Bliss' we see not just the girl's development but the development of a writer towards robustness and remarkable insight (though of the three, it's the second volume I find most overly satisfying). Eimear McBride provides an insightful, appreciative foreword that puts the novels' publication into context and explains their enduring appeal.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    Conor said he wouldn't read her because she's so dark. The following quotes are ones I underlined because I liked them, not that they necessarily stand for important parts of the story. "Have a sweet, Cynthia?" Baba said, opening Una's chocolates, but Una didn't mind. He had no insight into the small irritations that could drive people mad. It was exactly the voice one would expect from an old, dead woman. It was high and hoarse and croaking. I was lonely with him then, because he had not understood Conor said he wouldn't read her because she's so dark. The following quotes are ones I underlined because I liked them, not that they necessarily stand for important parts of the story. "Have a sweet, Cynthia?" Baba said, opening Una's chocolates, but Una didn't mind. He had no insight into the small irritations that could drive people mad. It was exactly the voice one would expect from an old, dead woman. It was high and hoarse and croaking. I was lonely with him then, because he had not understood what I had been telling him. "I used to drive out there on weekdays, when things became too much in Los Angeles. The sky is always blue in California, a piercing blue, and the pavements hot, and the tanned, predatory faces booming out their hearty nothings. I like rain and isolation..." "Rich!" Joanna said, rolling the R of that word, her favorite word, the only poem she knew. There was a tray set for tea and a sweet cake buttered. tossed bed For a while I welcomed the fact that one day I would be old and dried, and no man would torment my heart. "She's a right-lookin' eejit, she got the collywobbles, and that spy with the beard had to take her home." ... that the experience of knowing love and of being destined, one day, to remember it, is the common lot of most people. "__ __, carp, bleak, bream." They did not sound ike the names of fish at all, but like a litany of moods that any woman might feel any Monday morning after she'd hung out her washing and caught a glimpse of a ravishing man going somewhere alone in a motorcar. But what is a child between injured parents? Only a weapon. It was hot, and unfunny, and shrill in that room.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Was there ever a better title than Girls in Their Married Bliss?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie "Jedigal"

    The two star rating refers just to the Epilogue, I rated the books of the Trilogy separately by their respective titles. I did not feel like the Epilogue added anything. Except more Irish depression. On the books as a whole, I cannot really say that I feel that these added anything to my personal landscape. Maybe if I were younger (had experienced less) or had read fewer things, I would not feel the same, but as it is, The Country Girls didn't add much. For people thinking about reading some O'Br The two star rating refers just to the Epilogue, I rated the books of the Trilogy separately by their respective titles. I did not feel like the Epilogue added anything. Except more Irish depression. On the books as a whole, I cannot really say that I feel that these added anything to my personal landscape. Maybe if I were younger (had experienced less) or had read fewer things, I would not feel the same, but as it is, The Country Girls didn't add much. For people thinking about reading some O'Brien, I would recommend Lantern Slides as being representative of her work, and the shorter pieces providing somewhat more variety. But personally I doubt I will recommend O'Brien to anyone in my circle.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    I read Wild Decembers and my review is a bit condescending. Who was I to do that? O'Brien's story as a writer is an extraordinary one! Read about her. Read her books. In this the delight is in the details " I turned them upside down before putting them on, because once I found a dead mouse in a Wellington. Some corn seeds dropped out of them." "My father got his overcoat then and came into the kitchen with his shoelaces slapping around". "He had come in the blue van which he used to take greyhoun I read Wild Decembers and my review is a bit condescending. Who was I to do that? O'Brien's story as a writer is an extraordinary one! Read about her. Read her books. In this the delight is in the details " I turned them upside down before putting them on, because once I found a dead mouse in a Wellington. Some corn seeds dropped out of them." "My father got his overcoat then and came into the kitchen with his shoelaces slapping around". "He had come in the blue van which he used to take greyhounds to the veterinary surgeon and such places. It smelled of that life." But it is still a dark story of a closed and crazy society absolutely deadly to thinking women.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Micebyliz

    read the first book of this remarkable trilogy. what a page turner. just finished the epilogue. i think this book will take some processing...something about the banality of life... The times they have changed in Ireland!! thank goodness! how much different would Kate and Baba's lives have been if they had lived in more modern times? at least times when women were valued and respected instead of smacked. I got really annoyed at them for various reasons, but then realized that's all they really knew read the first book of this remarkable trilogy. what a page turner. just finished the epilogue. i think this book will take some processing...something about the banality of life... The times they have changed in Ireland!! thank goodness! how much different would Kate and Baba's lives have been if they had lived in more modern times? at least times when women were valued and respected instead of smacked. I got really annoyed at them for various reasons, but then realized that's all they really knew, or all they were taught. No one cared what they learned or if they learned anything, just so they could mend a shirt and cook and have lots of children.

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