Country Girl: A Memoir

(Nonfiction; Little, Brown and Company, 2013; repr., Faber and Faber, 2012)

In the first half of her memoir, Country Girl, Edna O’Brien recalls with magnified precision small, self-contained moments of her childhood: surgery on an infected dog bite, the smell of dust in a hated teacher’s classroom, a mythology text from her convent school’s bookcase. “Male gods disguised themselves in such cunning ways,” O’Brien writes, “appearing as the North Wind or the bedraggled cuckoos or in the fleeces of ewes to ravish nymphs and goddesses.” As a child, she didn’t know that such gods would appear in her own life, or how cunning they would be.

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