‘The Country Girls’ by Edna O’Brien

The Country Girls:

Edna O’Brien writes in the Guardian in 2008.

The Country Girls was my first novel and by far the easiest one to write. True, there was a welter of emotion to be countenanced, but I was happy to be doing it and became lost to the outside world.  …[I] had read voraciously, loved and sought to learn from writers as disparate as Joyce, Scott Fitzgerald, the Brontës, Flora Thompson, Chekhov, Gogol, Flaubert, Mary Webb, Constance Holme, Colette and Nadine Gordimer. But it was from Ernest Hemingway that I learnt the lesson of pruning my prose. Like many fledgling writers, I believed that the merest brush with a published author would somehow crown my garbled efforts. I had moved to London with my husband and children, and when I read that Arthur Michener, an American professor, was giving a talk in a university, I went, to meet the spirit of Hemingway, so to speak. It was an astonishment, a virtual leap, as Michener read the first flawless lines of A Farewell to Arms, with such mastery of narrative, imagery and feeling, the prerequisites for great prose…

The penguin painting is a copy of original front book-cover that I vividly remember seeing/reading as a young person in the late seventies in London.

The Country Girls is a thrilling story about two country girls named Kate Brady and Baba Brennan. Kate Brady’s mother is forever worrying about Kate’s father who is an alcoholic. They have a workman named Hickey who has been working for twenty years. Baba Brennan lives with her mother Martha Brennan and her father Mr. Brennan. Her mother spends most of her time dreaming about a social life. Mr. Brennan’s occupation is a vet…


Edna O'Brien

Opening few minutes of the 1983 Channel 4 film The Country Girls, based on EDNA O’BRIEN‘s  book. [I also saw this film when I lived in Birmingham. We used to skip and sing to the De-Valera song as well in Goldenbridge. We also sang it whilst throwing four balls against the high prison wall] We were experts at French skipping and ball-playing, as we had no other toys].

Here’s more of The Country Girls or culchies as they were frequently called by some Dubliners (Jackeens) in the past. Note, how one of the men, who pushes Baba’s friend out of the pub door, because she refuses to comply with his mauling, -calls her by the derogatory term. I see a very young Gabriel Byrne acting as barman.

Am looking forward to seeing the play when it comes to the Gaiety theatre in November. It’s also on in Waterford, which would be a far more intimate setting. A few months ago I saw Philadelphia Here I Come by Brian Friel and was utterly disappointed with the acoustics at the Gaiety. Luckily for me, though, I was knowledgable of the play, but those with me were not, and were non too pleased.


 Update October 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Part 1 of 2 – Edna O’Brien on Today With Pat Kenny


 Update: October 19, 2011

I purchased ‘The Country Girls’ Penguin original edition in Chapters book-shop, Parnell St. today. I had been looking out for it in a few other second-hand shops throughout last week – but to no avail. I was prompted by having seeing the original copy for sale on e-bay. I also got a few more of her books. ‘A Love Object’ I also got another copy of ‘The Country Girls’ with a different front-cover. It would be nice to get them autographed by Edna O’Brien, if she appears at the Gaiety Theatre when her play arrives there.



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