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Description - The Light of Evening by Edna O'Brien

With THE LIGHT OF EVENING Edna O'Brien returns to the world of her early fiction, rural Ireland and the relationship between mother and daughter. Whereas her first novel THE COUNTRY GIRLS was, as she once said, ' a simple little tale of two girls who were trying to burst out of their gym frocks and their convent, and their own lives in their own houses, to make it to the big city', in THE LIGHT OF THE EVENING the mother is dying, her daughter, a writer, is in the aftermath of a rotten marriage. The novel reflects their lives down the years. There are moments of lyricism and anecdote, but as with everything Edna O'Brien writes, it is her understanding of character that wins through. When we meet the mother, now in her seventies, she is seeing her doctor. She knows she is seriously unwell. Ovarian cancer is diagnosed. First the mother tries a faith-healer, but eventually accepts the inevitable and hospitalisation. There she recalls her life: going to America (through Ellis Island), becoming a servant - this historical part is full of good anecdote. The mother marries back in Ireland.Her husband loves training horses; as well as a daughter there is a son, who becomes involved with the IRA and dies. The daughter is sophisticated, she leaves Ireland, marries an older man (is this to escape?), starts reading for a publisher, then writing, has children. Back to her mother in Ireland she sends gifts. As her mother lies dying she returns. The author's understanding of the mother-daughter relationship makes the appeal of this novel universal.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780297851332
ISBN-10: 0297851330
Format: Hardback
(242mm x 162mm x 26mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 28-Sep-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Light of Evening by Edna O'Brien

US Kirkus Review » A novel of powerful, complicated emotions and rapturous writing suffers from its plot's soap-opera sentimentality.O'Brien (Wild Decembers, 2000, etc.) shows how much of herself she has invested in this material in the book's dedication: "For My Mother and My Motherland." Languishing on her deathbed from a disease she has done her best to deny, Delia "Dilly" Macready comes to terms with her life in general and her relationship with her daughter in particular. That daughter, Eleanora, is a novelist who long ago departed her native Ireland for London, where she has become successful and notorious by writing books that scandalize those she left behind, blurring the lines between life and art, memory and invention. Thus the novel encourages the reader to identify Eleanora with the London-based author, whose work has generated controversy in her homeland (and who drops the third-person references to the "E" character for the first-person "I" in the novel's final stages). Yet the story belongs to Dilly, and only she comes fully alive within these pages. The richest section recounts Dilly's young adulthood in America, after she had left her mother for the promise of a new world, only to find that her nationality and inexperience have consigned her to maid's work. It is there that she meets the man she will love for the rest of her life, though circumstances and miscommunication have her return home and marry a dutiful Irishman. Her two children are even less lucky in love, as Eleanora, whose true passion is literature, marries and divorces an older, domineering man with no redeeming qualities (leaving the reader to wonder what she ever saw in him), and her henpecked brother and shrewish wife scheme to inherit Dilly's once prosperous property.Through the twists of blood ties, O'Brien explores the profound ambivalence of the mother-daughter relationship, but the land and the climate seem more fully developed as characters than do many of the one-dimensional humans. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Edna O'Brien

Edna O'Brien is the author of 19 books. She was the winner of the 1993 Writers' Guild Prize for Fiction. Recently she has written about Irish topics - religion, politics, property. In 2001 her novel, In the Forest - about a brutal murder on the west coast - caused a furore throughout Ireland.

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