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Edna O’Brien Books In Order

Publication Order of Country Girls Books

The Country Girls (1960) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Lonely Girl (1962) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Girls in Their Married Bliss (1963) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

August Is a Wicked Month (1965) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Casualties of Peace (1966) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Pagan Place (1970) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Zee and Co (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Night (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Dazzle (1981) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Rescue (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The High Road (1988) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
On the Bone (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Time and Tide (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
House of Splendid Isolation (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Down by the River (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Wild Decembers (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
In the Forest (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Light of Evening (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Little Red Chairs (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Girl (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

The Love Object (1968) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Scandalous Woman (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Rose in the Heart (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Collector's Choice (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Returning (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Fanatic Heart (1984) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lantern Slides (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
An Edna O'Brien Reader (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mrs. Reinhardt (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Irish Revel (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Triptych and Iphigenia (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Poolside (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Saints and Sinners (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Plays

Virginia (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Triptych (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Haunted (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Picture Books

A Christmas Treat (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Shovel Kings (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Paradise (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

Some Irish Loving (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tales for the Telling (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Mother Ireland (1976) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
James and Nora (1981) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Vanishing Ireland (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
James Joyce (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Byron In Love (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Country Girl (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

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.

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