Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book Review: Are You Somebody? by Nuala O'Faolain

Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain

My book group likes themes. Our food choices for meetings are based on our books, books are chosen to coincide with holidays during the month as well. We try to anyway. March's choice went Irish in honor of St. Patrick's Day. A memoir seemed like a good choice since we hadn't read that genre yet. 

Nuala O'Faolain was a renowned journalist who lived in Dublin and London. She was also a novelist, I had actually read one of her books, My Dream of You, awhile back.  I remembered enjoying the book, so I was one who voted for her memoir.

The forward by Frank McCourt got me excited that this was going to be an interesting read. Unfortunately, I lost interest pretty quickly. There is no denying that O'Faolain is a great writer. It is a very well written memoir. My problem was just not wanting to read any more about her exploits with this writer and that director and this famous novelist, etc, etc. Now, I don't believe she is name dropping to show off or anything, it doesn't come off that way at all. It's just that a lot of these people she mentions- I had no idea who they were. I suppose, people more knowledgeable about Irish writers would enjoy these mentions more.

I know she has been criticized by others for portraying herself and her family as poor. Since her father was nationally known as a radio personality and led a pretty good life when out in Dublin, others found it hard to believe that the life she led was all that hard. Perhaps they didn't know that she was one of many children living, most of the time with no father and a drunk mother. Poor, not poor, she tells of a hard childhood that not even her critics would want.

I did like how much she mentions the power of reading and books. How important books were to her mother and to her. I was looking through highlights I made while reading and found that most had to do with literacy, her love of reading and how it saved her. One quote- "If there were nothing else, reading would-obviously-be worth living for."(pg 41, ebook)- resonated with me. Would it be enough for me? For you? 

So, this is a hard book to rate. I liked parts, I disliked others, but it got me thinking and it gave a lot for us to discuss at book group. I will go ahead and leave this one unrated

Source: purchased ebook

Author and setting: Ireland


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  3. European Reading Challenge

    (Sorry for deleting! I was having trouble with the links in my comments.)

    1. I should just give up! I am having such butter fingers!

      The book sounds great to me, even the namedropping bits.

      My book club also matches the food to the book -- very fun.

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