As John Banville writes in his introduction to THE LOVE OBJECT, Edna O'Brien "is, simply, one of the finest writers of our time." The thirty-one stories collected in this volume provide, among other things, a cumulative portrait of Ireland, seen from within and without. Read more...
As John Banville writes in his introduction to THE LOVE OBJECT, Edna O'Brien "is, simply, one of the finest writers of our time." The thirty-one stories collected in this volume provide, among other things, a cumulative portrait of Ireland, seen from within and without.
Coming of age, the impact of class, and familial and romantic love are the prevalent motifs, along with the instinct toward escape and subsequent nostalgia for home. Some of the stories are linked and some carry O'Brien's distinct sense of the comical. In "A Rose in the Heart of New York," the single-mindedness of love dramatically derails the relationship between a girl and her mother, while in "Sister Imelda" and "The Creature" the strong ties between teacher and student and mother and son are ultimately broken. "The Love Object" recounts a passionate affair between the narrator and her older lover.
The magnificent, mid-career title story from Lantern Slides portrays a Dublin dinner party that takes on the lives and loves of all the guests. More recent stories include "Shovel Kings"--"a masterpiece of compression, distilling the pain of a lost, exiled generation" (Sunday Times)--and "Old Wounds," which follows the revival and demise of the friendship between two elderly cousins.
In 2011, Edna O'Brien's gifts were acknowledged with the most prestigious international award for the story, the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award. THE LOVE OBJECT illustrates a career's worth of shimmering, potent prose from a writer of great courage, vision, and heart.
"The most striking aspect of Edna O'Brien's short stories, aside from the consistent mastery with which they are executed, is their diversity."--John Banville
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-02
- Reviewer: Staff
O’Brien, who introduced an Irish female perspective to the 1960s literary landscape, has produced stories over the last half-century that resonate with charm and acerbity, lyricism and terseness, nostalgia and brute force. Her early stories depict an Ireland of isolated villages and poor mountain farms where, in a moment, dreams turn to hopelessness, innocence to shame. Autobiographical tales feature mothers recalling days in America, schoolgirls bristling at convent education, and country lasses escaping to London. In “Irish Revel,” a farm girl bicycles into town for a party only to find herself moving furniture and cooking dinner. In “Sister Imelda,” the title character returns from university lonely and apart, an exile “in the mind.” Spirited Eily of “A Scandalous Woman” ends up trapped in a spiritless marriage, and the protagonist of “The Conner Girls,” like Chekhovian figurines, are trapped by their own lack of will. “Mrs. Reinhardt” and “A Rose in New York” exemplify stories exploring relationships between women. Men are mostly observed by women, as in “The Love Object,” which details a London divorcée’s affair with a married man. “Brother” depicts a particularly vicious man through his sister’s murderous eyes. “The Shovel Kings” shows sympathy for Irish laborers in England. John Banville’s introduction to the collection highlights O’Brien’s technique as well as her Irish roots. The stories validate his admiration—O’Brien’s self-described gallery of “strange” and “sacrificial” Irish women is indispensable. (May)