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Edna O’Brien Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Country Girls Trilogy Books

The Country Girls (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Girl with Green Eyes (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

August Is A Wicked Month (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
Casualties of Peace (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
Zee & Co. (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Pagan Place (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
Night (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dazzle (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Rescue (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
The High Road (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
On The Bone (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Time and Tide (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
House of Splendid Isolation (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Down by the River (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wild Decembers (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Forest (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Light of Evening (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Little Red Chairs (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Girl (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Love Object (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Dublin Plays (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Scandalous Woman And Other Stories (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Collector's Choice (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Rose in the Heart (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Fanatic Heart (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lantern Slides (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Edna O'Brien Reader (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mrs. Reinhardt (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Irish Revel (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Returning (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Triptych and Iphigenia (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Saints and Sinners (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Plays

Publication Order of Picture Books

A Christmas Treat (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Mother Ireland (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
James and Nora (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
Vanishing Ireland (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Byron in Love (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Country Girl (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Penguin Lives Books

Abraham Lincoln (By: Thomas Keneally) (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mao Zedong: A Life (By: Jonathan D. Spence) (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mozart: A Life (By: Peter Gay) (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Marcel Proust (By: Edmund White) (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Crazy Horse (By: Larry McMurtry) (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Saint Augustine (By: Garry Wills) (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
James Joyce (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rosa Parks (By: Douglas Brinkley) (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Virginia Woolf (By: Nigel Nicolson) (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Woodrow Wilson (By: Louis Auchincloss) (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Herman Melville (By: Elizabeth Hardwick) (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life (By: Sherwin B. Nuland) (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dante (By: R.W.B. Lewis) (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jane Austen: A Life (By: Carol Shields) (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Buddha (By: Karen Armstrong) (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Simone Weil (By: Francine du Plessix Gray) (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Andy Warhol: A Biography (By: Wayne Koestenbaum) (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life (By: Marshall Frady) (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Joseph Smith (By: Robert V. Remini) (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Winston Churchill: A Life (By: John Keegan) (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pope John XXIII (By: Thomas Cahill) (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Charles Dickens (By: Jane Smiley) (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Elvis Presley (By: Bobbie Ann Mason) (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Saint Therese of Lisieux (By: Kathryn Harrison) (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Robert E. Lee (By: Roy Blount Jr.) (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life (By: Ada Louise Huxtable) (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
George Herbert Walker Bush (By: Tom Wicker) (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Napoleon (By: Paul Johnson) (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Julia Child (By: Laura Shapiro) (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Joan of Arc (By: Mary Gordon) (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Martin Luther (By: Martin E. Marty) (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Branch Rickey: A Life (By: Jimmy Breslin) (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Women and Fiction(1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
Arabian Days(1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
Best for Winter(1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
Winter's Tales(1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Winter's Tales 26(1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tales for the Telling(1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories(1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews(1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Friendship(1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
New Writing From Ireland(1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mistresses of the Dark(1998)Description / Buy at Amazon

Edna O’Brien is an Irish novelist, screenwriter, and short story author from Ireland. She was born in County Clare Ireland in 1930 and spent most of her childhood in the small town of Twamgraney. She describes her hometown as a small bigoted, fervid and enclosed small village that she hated. While she loved reading and was writing by the time she was eight years old, she never got an opportunity to write until the family moved to London. In O’Brien’s small village, literature was taboo and most of the books that she got to read as a child were loaned by the page. Her parents never encouraged her to pursue a career in writing as her father followed in the footsteps of profligate Irishmen, while her mother yearned for her younger days when she was a maid in Brooklyn. As such, she had a very unhappy childhood and this gave her the impetus and need to write. O’Brien has asserted that her writing is not therapeutic but rather a product of a deeply disturbed psyche. Her novels are known for their sexual candor, evocative descriptions, and portrayal of women’s issues. Similar to her predecessors such as Frank O’Connor and James Joyce, O’Brien’s works were been banned for a time by the highly conservative Irish government.

After graduating from primary school in Twamgraney, she went to Galway where she attended convent school. O’Brien then went to college in Dublin and studied chemistry at a Pharmaceutical College. While she had always wanted to become an author, she studied chemistry since her family was completely opposed to her studying anything to do with literature. In 1960 the family moved to England and it was here that she determined that she was going to become an author no matter what it took. Shortly after the family’s arrival in London, she saw an ad for a lecture by Arthur Mizener, who had written “The Far Side of Paradise,” a novel about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway. It was at the lecture that she had her Saul of Tarsus moment and knew that there was no going back. Mizener’s reading of the precise and uncluttered prose that was lyrical as it was moving gave her the urgency to write, and the belief that she had it in her to become a professional author. O’Brien began writing her debut novel “The Country Girls” and had it published in 2002 to critical acclaim. It was during this time that she also met novelist Ernst Gabler that she went on to marry and have two children with.

“The Country Girls” first published in 1960 gave brought O’Brien into the limelight and spawned two more titles to become “The Country Girls Trilogy.” The lead characters in the novels are two Irish girls that finally get a chance to leave the restricting environment in Ireland and go to Dublin where they attend Convent School. They finally have the chance for some romantic opportunities and excitement in the big city. The story of the two girls is chronicled in “The Country Girls,” “The Lonely Girl,” and “Girls in Their Married Bliss.” The girls are married by the time of the publication of the second and third novels and live in London. But despite being set free by leaving their strict families in Ireland, they have not found the happiness they think they deserve. They are disillusioned with men in general and marriage in particular. These novels and the several that she wrote later critiqued Irish Catholic morality and brought issues of sexuality to the fore. In particular O’Brien emphasized the restrictive, oppressive and often hypocritical expectations placed on women that resulted in disillusionment and conflict. While her work are full of humor, it is also quite despairing and bleak with regard to her female characters never finding happiness or emotional fulfillment. Emily O’Brien’s characters are often immature, naïve and dependent on men, though over time they come to realize the importance of emotional self-sufficiency and independence.

Edna O’Brien’s “The Country Girls” is deemed one of the most hardcore realism novels you can ever read. The novel tells the story of two girls brought up in the Irish countryside where sexism and religion color everything. The lead characters are Cathleen and Baba, who cannot decide if they are enemies or friends. They have grown very close over the years, having spent a lot of time and had a lot of experiences together since they were children. We follow them on a journey that takes them from their rural village to a convent and then to the big city of Dublin. It is at the convent that they confront the rigidity of Catholicism and how deeply ingrained it is in their society. Their experience makes them decide that Catholicism is not for them. But they still have some of the teaching of their society restraining their actions and decisions as evidenced by Kate trying to become a housewife to a man who is not only after sex. Her friend goes the opposite way as she lives a life of partying with men and drinking. Given their different perspectives on life, it is inevitable that they will take different paths.

O’Brien’s “The Lonely Girl” is the second novel of the “Country Girls Trilogy” that continues the story of the two lead protagonists, Baba and Cathleen, as told from the perspective of Kate. The girls are still resident in Dublin and at the beginning of the story live as roommates. Kate still has her dreamy and serious ambitions while Baba is still partying wildly after abandoning the strict regimen under which she had been brought up. Kate falls for an English lord, a Protestant man who is a little on the older side of what is deemed acceptable for a woman her age. She is so in love that she soon moves in with him at Wicklow Mountain, his country estate. Needing to impress his young catch he does a Pygmalion style renovation of his mansion and style and it does seem to work for a while. In another thread her family tries to rescue her from eternal damnation and the older man they believe is not right for her. Kate also descends into sullenness as she feels jealous and inadequate as compared to other confident and cultured women that she comes across.

“Girls in Their Married Bliss” is one of Edna O’Brien’s most eloquent novels in “The Country Girls” trilogy. Kate and Baba are still searching for elusive happiness and contentment in their lives. Kate the romantic is seeking love as she is bored and tearful in the house of her greying husband. Baba is still running amok fulfilling her passions with her vulgar and rich builder. Kate needs the pragmatic Baba to help her find some excitement outside her marriage. Together they set out to take on the world starting in Dublin. In the city, they get into a life of touching and comic misadventures, reckless passions, and wild flirtations. But their lives take separate and unexpected turns forcing them to go their separate ways.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Edna O’Brien

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