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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A particularly Irish life, but not just for the Irish
I found this book intensely moving -- but not for the reasons I thought I would. It's everything the reviews say: a brutally honest picture of the author's chaotic and emotionally starved childhood, a memoir of literary Dublin in the 60's, a melancholy tale of her search for a lasting love, and a chronicle of her journalism career, and on that level it's a fascinating...
Published on 5 July 1998

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3.0 out of 5 stars the struggle to overcome pain, find love and meaningful work
This is a splendidly written autobiography, unbelievably rich in detail and raw emotion. While other reviewers have ably described her life's journey - from a chaotic household with alcoholic parents to a very good job as TV producer and then columnist - this is also a beautiful and vivid evocation of a changing Ireland. O'Faolain provides the grittiest of portraits, of a...
Published on 30 May 2011 by rob crawford


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A particularly Irish life, but not just for the Irish, 5 July 1998
By A Customer
I found this book intensely moving -- but not for the reasons I thought I would. It's everything the reviews say: a brutally honest picture of the author's chaotic and emotionally starved childhood, a memoir of literary Dublin in the 60's, a melancholy tale of her search for a lasting love, and a chronicle of her journalism career, and on that level it's a fascinating (and beautifully written) story for anyone.
But I'm only about 5 years younger than Ms. O'Faolain. I was raised in a (partly Irish) Catholic family, went to Catholic schools all the way from kindergarten through college, then went to graduate school at Berkeley in the late '60's. Time after time, her observations chimed with my own: the cruelty masquerading as love (or maybe it's the other way round) in Catholic schools; how living in an intensely Catholic environment blinds you to any other viewpoint; how matter-of-factly women were consigned to invisibility in our era, even (and especially) the well-educated; and how the assumption of male superiority lingered on throughout the supposedly "liberal" sixties and seventies.
As the author points out in "Afterwords," her book became a best-seller in Ireland because she articulated what many of her fellow-countrymen felt but couldn't say about their lives. But I think her experiences have a far wider relevance for any woman who grew up in the same time period -- and who's now struggling to make sense of her life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this one with an open mind, 4 Jun 1999
By A Customer
It isn't very often that such honesty about oneself appears in print. As someone studying the lived experience of middle-aged women living alone, I found this book engaging and enlightening, particularly the final chapters. I admire the courage it took to share so much about herself with such an enormous audience. If you are uncomfortable with stories that detail someone's journeys and struggles through life, take a pass on O'Failon's story. This is a must read for anyone who cares about women in midlife. Brava, Ms O'Failon!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, fluid memoir, 6 July 2009
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Just a terrifically articulate, self-aware and intelligent read. Written by a woman who was an important cultural figure as Ireland was (and still is, perhaps) coming out of a fairly absolute and patriarchal period of its history.

Don't understand its low-rating here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 27 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Are You Somebody? (Paperback)
O'Faolain's memoir is simply a must read for anyone interested in narratives that deal with historical and socio-political changes. Her memoir provides a stark portrayal of Ireland and how the Irish managed to survive; a personalized novel of formation that takes you to the unseen Ireland.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'I was just an accident. There was no reason for me.Yet my life burned inside me', 7 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Are You Somebody? (Paperback)
What is it about Irish writers - particularly Irish women writers - this visceral ability to inhabit the lyrical place? There is such a strong sense of sensuality, vitality, depth of emotion, whether in writing about sex linked with sin - increasing the charge, or about writing itself, conversation, food. The ability to be at the same time intellectual - but not cerebral. The mind inhabits the body, the world of the senses is engaged in. O Faolain has written a gorgeous book, passionate, sorrowful, electric, charting her own personal development and the development of Irish women, Irish intellectual women, colliding with the rise of feminism. Whether it's the little vignettes about her first exposure to un-Irish food in Italy: `as I was to do for a long time, I ate just vegetable soup, because at least it had potatoes in it' or accounts of the passionate schoolgirl world of crushes `the innocent sublimation of sexuality', she brings her reader into a present, charged, felt sense of truth.

The rhythms of her writing are somehow, definably Irish, arising from mists, vivid, green, loamy, wild and plaintive both.

I'm not at all surprised that on initial publication of this book so many people contacted her to say 'you told my story' - no, not the personal story of encounters with the literati, but the understory of family bonds and tragedies, of the disappointments between women and men, between parents and children, of invisible women and visible addiction
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for love in all the wrong places....., 2 Jun 1998
By A Customer
I grew up in that same country where drink was often the substitute for love. But its a vicious circle. While the drink makes it easier to bear the misery of lonliness, its effect drives love farther away. Like all great Irish memoirs, this book features "the jar" as a leading character. Nuala O'Faolan writes an honest and agonizing account of her life thus far. Being Irish of course, I manage to forget the bad parts and dwell on the good, thus romanticizing the past. Nuala has her year in the cottage in the woods - and what a time that must have been. The real treasure here is missing. In the copy I bought in Ireland, there is a collection of her writings for the Irish Times. It is here that you witness the true talents of this lady. With compassion and an eye for detail, she brings meaning to the lives of ordinary people; people striving to cope with their own trials and tribulations. Apart from this egregious omission, her memoir will hold its place in the pantheon of other angst ridden Irish writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alter ego ?, 9 Aug 2011
This review is from: Are You Somebody? (Paperback)
I completely relished this book.I bought it because I was given the novel 'My Dream of You' by this writer.I was struck throughout by resonances and parallels of my own life and experience-Irish background,booze,unwise relationships,rising above sexism,going abroad on a motorbike with a man called Michael,dating the start of life from learning to read etc.I felt at times I was reading about myself.I got to the end of the book to learn that women approach Nuala O'Faolain constantly to say this.Who knew there were so many slightly crazed women in the world ?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and deeply moving memoir, 18 Jun 1999
By A Customer
My sister lent me this book and I found it a wonderful read. I did not want the book to end. Her search for love and her looking at that search in such honest ways has made me feel that solitude is a common human experience even though we may not talk from it all that much. I am so grateful to Ms. O'Faolain for writing from her heart and sharing it with so many.
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3.0 out of 5 stars the struggle to overcome pain, find love and meaningful work, 30 May 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This is a splendidly written autobiography, unbelievably rich in detail and raw emotion. While other reviewers have ably described her life's journey - from a chaotic household with alcoholic parents to a very good job as TV producer and then columnist - this is also a beautiful and vivid evocation of a changing Ireland. O'Faolain provides the grittiest of portraits, of a stalled society that is emerging from centuries of repression and excessive religiosity to a modern society. She herself embodies much of it, journeying (across class lines) from desperate loneliness (seeking love as a panacea) to a self-empowered feminist writer who has the strength to keep going. It is deep and gets you to reflect on your own predicament, particularly middle age.

Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A life in chains, 8 Mar 2009
This review is from: Are You Somebody? (Paperback)
I recommend this book because it is well written and emotionally powerful. But, it is opressive, be warned. If you have enjoyed a happy childhood this book will leave you shaken. I reeled, not only from the difficulties of the author's childhood, which has scarred her for life, but also from the cultural background which frames that childhood. It is difficult to believe that Ireland, which I see as a modern, thriving, innovative, and upbeat country could have so recently been so ultra-conservative (although maybe that is just the author's perspective). I honestly struggled to believe that this tale was not written about a girl growing up 150 years ago, rather than 50 years ago. I admire the fortitude of the author in bringing her story to a wider audience, and feel sadness for the fact that despite her successes she never really recovered from her childhood.
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Are You Somebody? by Nuala O'Faolain (Paperback - 27 Feb 2007)
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