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Paperback My Dream of You Book

ISBN: 1573229083

ISBN13: 9781573229081

My Dream of You

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Book Overview

A New York Times notable book and bestseller, this debut novel from Irish Times columnist Nuala O'Faolain takes on life and love with Dickensian flair and the striking intimacy that characterized her bestselling and acclaimed memoir, Are You Somebody? Set in Ireland and spanning a century and a half, My Dream of You unfolds the compelling stories of two women and their quests for passion, connection, and fulfillment. A globetrotting Irish travel writer,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A 50-year-old views passion, hunger, the need for love.

Kathleen de Burca, a single, middle-aged travel writer living alone for twenty years in the same basement flat in London, finds her whole life changing when her closest friend and confidante dies very suddenly. Her loneliness is overpowering, her desire to leave her job and try a new kind of writing is growing, and as she faces the age of fifty without a family or any lover, she remarks soulfully, "I...watch the [passion] in me dying....This is the hardest thing; and no one warned me." Possessing the court transcript for an adultery trial from the 1850's, Kathleen decides to return to Ireland for the first time since she left home, thirty years before, to look for more information about the case and perhaps to write about it. She is puzzled by the irony that the apparently unrestrained passion of the "affair" took place during the depths of the Potato Famine, and she is open to a passion of her own. Kathleen de Burca is an unusual protagonist for a love story by virtue of her age alone, and few women will be able to resist her attempts to find direction for her life, with or without a lover. O'Faolain creates a flawed and realistic main character trying to find connections within the mess of her life--the Irish roots she has abandoned, friends and lovers she has thoughtlessly hurt, and ill-considered choices she has made. Romantic in its descriptions of the Irish countryside, this is a big, enjoyable story of love and passion as seen by a woman in her 50's and by the young wife in the court documents, leading to new perspectives and new considerations of passion in our lives. Mary Whipple

A Novel About Ireland and Passion

Nuala O'Faoloain's My Dream of You is a coming-of-middle-age tale about Irish women across decades looking for "something to love." While the novel is overtly about passion, it also explores the meaning of coming home and leaving it, of familial ties, of friendship, and, most poignantly, of growing older. Fiftyish Kathleen de Burca finds herself bereft and alone when her best friend Jimmy dies, and she begins to question the choices she has made. A persistent memory of a former lover and his "gift" to her of court documents prompt her to quit her job as a travel writer and to research the scandalous affair between a married Englishwoman and her Irish groom, an event that occurred during the Irish Potato Famine. Kathleen arrives on Irish soil after a long, stubborn absence, and there, she begins to open up, to understand matters of love and passion, to grasp the significance of her childhood, to give meaning to what it means to be Irish. O'Faoloain's prose is lyrical, though sometimes overwrought, and its cadences propel this essentially quiet story. The historical side of the book, that of the principals in the Talbot Judgment, lends texture to the present day story, although the story itself is not as compelling as it could be, especially when Kathleen recreates it as fiction. O'Faoloain's unflinching descriptions of the realities of the aging body and its desires give this novel a freshness and an honesty. The psychology of the protagonist is revealed with equal candor. My Dream of You should appeal largely to women, although all readers who like to read about Ireland will enjoy its textures of history and description.

Exquisitely Written

"My Dream of You" is a totally honest book, so much so that it hurts to read it. There is not one word that is wasted, there is not one thought that is not so pure, so well described, and so TRUE, that it causes the reader to stop breathing for a moment. O'Faolain's great talent is the way she draws the reader in to worlds that should be alien, but somehow feel familiar, eg, Ireland during the Famine. This talent was evident in her memoirs, and is equally strong in this fictional narrative that I suspect is drawn straight out of her own life. Indeed, it matches her memoirs in many aspects, and it is hard to remember that this is only a story. O'Faolain skillfully weaves together two narratives in this book--one tragic love story from the time of the Famine, and one very modern tale of a woman trying to come to grips with aging and all that implies, from the terror of losing her sexuality to the fear, felt for the first time, of being alone. The plot is secondary to the inner thoughts of this incredibly strong and independent woman, Kathleen, as she faces her own inner weaknesses. This is a book well worth reading, and keeping. It is one that I read very slowly, in order to savor every word.

Hard to forget

A phrase you see on a lot of back-cover-blurbs is that a book is like "Possession." I've always wondered what that meant -that the novel delivers the same kind of engrossing, teasing literary thrill that A.S. Byatt's novel did, or does it mix a modern tale with one placed in the past? Usually it's the latter, with the touted book offering a disappointing shadow of the satisfaction given by Byatt's book.Nuala O'Faolain charged on the literary scene several years ago with "Are You Somebody?" which intrigued a lot of readers. Her first novel, "My Dream of You" meets everyone's expectations. It is like "Possession" in that it is completely engrossing, teasing, thrilling, moving, and yes, it does include a story rooted in the past. But then, for the Irish, so much is rooted in the past.Kathleen de Burca is a travel writer whose carefully chaotic life is thrown in to real disorder by the loss of her dearest friend and retirement. She goes back to Ireland to research a novel on a story that's always intrigued her about an English lady's alleged affair with her Irish stableman during the Famine. Her return to the country of her birth brings her back to the land of her wretched childhood, but also throws her into a love affair which turns her upside down. The characters are so well drawn that it's hard to believe they're not really in the library or behind the bar or in the shop where Kathleen meets them. Ireland, with its rich, conflictive history and wonderful contrary people comes across in all its complexities. Kathleen's physical and spiritual journey is completely involving, and this book lingers long after you've turned the last page..

The Whole Tenderness

My Dream of You is the best novel I have read in such a long while. It reminds me of Ellen Gilchrist at her wildest and most inventive, except this writer is Irish, not Southern. But she made me laugh, often, and run to read passages aloud, and I cried more than once, and through it all I was amazed at how much wholeness O' Faolain puts down in black and white, how much tenderness and anguish and forgiveness and layers under layers of buried secret griefs. I hope Nuala O'Faolain reads this because I say: Keats and Rilke would be proud. I finished the last 300 pages this Sunday in one sitting. I couldn't stop reading. Beautiful, fantastic NOVEL. Brilliantly, splendidly written. Thank you.
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