Synopses & Reviews
In 1996, a small Irish press approached Nuala O'Faolain, then a writer for The Irish Times
, to publish a collection of her opinion columns. She offered to compose an introduction for the volume, and that undertaking blossomed into an "accidental memoir of a Dublin woman" and a book called Are You Somebody?
that was published around the world and embraced so wholeheartedly in the U.S. that it reached the number-one position on the New York Times
bestseller list and launched Nuala O'Faolain on a new career.
Hailed universally for her unflinching eye ("A beautiful exploration of human loneliness and happiness, of contentment and longing."-Alice McDermott, The Washington Post Book World); her wisdom ("A remarkable memoir, poignant, truthful, and imparting that quiet wisdom which suffering brings."-Edna O'Brien); and her boldness ("An immensely courageous undertaking."-The Irish Times), Are You Somebody? took readers from O'Faolain's harrowing childhood, through decades defined by passion and a ferocious hunger for experience, to a middle age notable for its unbroken solitude and longing. The success of the book's publication robbed O'Faolain of her obscurity, but the traits that defined her life remained obstinately intact.
In Almost There, O'Faolain begins her story from the moment her life began to change in all manner of ways-subtle, radical, predictable, and unforeseen. It is a provocative meditation on the "crucible of middle age"-a time of life that forges the shape of the years to come, that clarifies and solidifies one's relationships to friends and lovers (past and present), family and self. It is also a story of good fortune chasing out bad-of an accidental harvest of happiness.
Almost There, like its predecessor, is a crystalline reflection of a singular character, utterly engaged in life. Intelligent, thoughtful, hilarious, fierce, moving, generous, and most of all, full of surprises.
"O'Faolain hints that her parents' lovelessness made it hard for her to love, an unsatisfying conclusion to such a nuanced account. Still, readers will enjoy O'Faolain for her witty turns of phrase....Her self-deprecation so reminiscent of Jean Rhys can be oddly comforting." Publishers Weekly
"O'Faolain is one to worry the ambiguities and ambivalences in all that touches her life shrewdly, artfully, without equivocation....O'Faolain may be "almost there" free of turbulence and waste, out of the wild hills and onto calm water but she may also be constitutionally incapable of such a condition: there's too much grit in her keen eye to let it rest easy upon the world." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] remarkable autobiography....O'Faolain has scarcely an equal today in probing the intricacies of relationships, the pain and isolation that failed love brings....[This] is writing instantly at home with the innate rhythm and music of language, writing that knows the beauty that simple words and sentences can build. A truly memorable work." William Dieter, Rocky Mountain News
"O'Faolain has a tangy storytelling style....The most vivid of her...have the rush of elegant daydreaming. Others go on too long or are annoyingly preachy....This is not a memoir for those who want to come away with a lesson or see loose ends tied into cheery bows. O'Faolain's epiphanies come in fits and starts and there is unfinished business all over the place....Yet it is such unrepentant honesty and her almost childlike determination to do better that gives her book its strength." Deborah Mason, The New York Times Book Review
O'Faolain begins her story from the moment her life began to change in all manner of ways subtle, radical, predictable, and unforeseen. It is a provocative meditation on the "crucible of middle age." It is also a story of good fortune chasing out bad of an accidental harvest of happiness.
In this intriguing follow-up to her #1 New York Times bestseller Are You Somebody?, O'Faolain begins her story at the moment her life began to change: middle age. Here, she presents a crystalline reflection of a singular character, utterly engaged in life.
In 1996, a small Irish press approached Nuala O'Faolain to publish a collection of her opinion columns from the Irish Times
. She offered to write an introduction to explain the life experience that had shaped this Irish woman's views. Convinced that none but a few diehard fans of the columns would ever see the book, she took the opportunity to interrogate herself as to what she had made of her life.
But the introduction, the "accidental memoir of a Dublin woman," was discovered, and Are You Somebody? became an international bestseller. It launched a new life for its author at a time when she had long let go of expectations that anything new could dislodge patterns of regret and solitude, well fixed. Suddenly, in midlife, there was the possibility of radical change.
Almost There begins at that moment when O'Faolain's life began to change. It tells the story of a life in subtle, radical, and unforeseen renewal. It is a tale of good fortune chasing out bad of an accidental harvest of happiness. But it is also a provocative examination of one woman's experience of the "crucible of middle age" a time of life that faces in two directions, that forges the shape of the years to come, and also clarifies and solidifies one's relationships to friends and lovers (past and present), family and self.
Intelligent, thoughtful, hilarious, fierce, moving, generous, and full of surprises, Almost There is a crystalline reflection of a singular character, utterly engaged in life.
A Radiant Life presents the unequivocal voice of Nuala O'Faolain tackling a vast range of subjects from Catholicism to feminism, from Sinatra to Africa, and from Irish American culture to Islam and the West. Curious and funny, tender and scathing, O'Faolain's columns were never less than trenchant and were always passionate. "I was blinded by the habit of translating everything into personal terms," she writes apologetically, but this is the power of her journalism. Through the prism of casual, everyday encounters, O'Faolain presses her subject, reaching beyond the prompting of the moment to transcend topicality. The result is a cumulative historical narrative, an inadvertent chronicle of a transformed Ireland by one of its sharpest observers and canniest critics.
About the Author
Nuala O'Faolain is the author of Are You Somebody?, a memoir, and My Dream of You, a novel. She lives in the west of Ireland and New York City and is working on her second novel.