Wednesday, 13 January 2016

O'Faolain, Nuala "Almost There"

O'Faolain, Nuala "Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman" - 2003

I love reading biographies, especially about interesting women, even if I don't really know them. So, I thought this might be an interesting read, the biography of an Irish woman writer.

However, I was disappointed. The writing wasn't all that great, the life not all that interesting, or at least she didn't succeed in persuading me that she had an interesting life or something worth mentioning. She's dragging on and on, retelling some stories from her life that, written like this, might be interesting to her family or people who know her closely but didn't really captivate me, my interest was not awakened. Neither in this book nor in the author. The ramblings of an unhappy woman.

All in all, I found the book pretty boring. I have another book of her on my TBR pile (My Dream of You), something a friend recommended. But I think it will take me quite a while until I tackle that.

From the back cover: "In 1996, a small Irish press approached Nuala O'Faolain, then a writer for the Irish Times newspaper, to publish a collection of her opinion columns. She offered to write an introduction to give the opinions a context - to explain the life experience that had shaped this Irish woman's views - and, convinced that none but a few diehard fans of the columns would ever see the book, she took the opportunity to interrogate herself, as fully and candidly as she could, 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 could dislodge patterns of regret and solitude well fixed and too familiar.
Suddenly in mid-life there was the possibility of radical change. Whereas the memoir ended with its author reconciled to a peaceful if lonely future, now opportunities opened up, and there were thrilling choices to make - choices that forced her to address the question of how to live a better life herself and, therefore, of what makes any life better.
'Almost There' begins at the moment when O'Faolain's life began to change, and its both tells the story of life in the subtle, radical, and, above all, unforeseen renewal, and meditates on that story. It is on one level 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, forging the shape of the years to come, and clarifying and solidifying one's relationships to friends and lovers (past and present), family and self.
Fiercely intelligent, hilarious, moving, generous, and full of surprises, this book is a crystalline reflections of a singular character, utterly engaged in life!"


  1. What a shame, hate boring books.
    The God ofSmall Things definitely won't be on my favorite's list for 2016, but I'm plodding along in it.
    This was my list of favorites for 2015:

    1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen I know you don't like fantasy, but this is so good, I do recommend it.

    2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Amazing what gets saved after the end of civilization

    3. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
    Wonderful, wonderful book. She's a single mother, her son is a genius and this is his story and interwoven are scenes from the movie the 7 Samurai. This book will stick with me for a long time.
    4. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes A Booker Award book and worthy of it.

    5. I Know This Much to Be True by Wally Lamb Always enjoy his books.

    6. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner A reread and one I'll read again.

    7. Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

    8. Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel Can't wait for the next in this series.

    9. Gilead by Marilynn Robinson
    A beautiful book about faith, love, family and forgiveness.
    10. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith Her grown-up books are so good, gory, but wonderful.

    So that's what I read last year. I'm working on the 2 volume of Churchill by William Manchester.

    1. I totally agree. I only held on because I thought it might be more interesting (it didn't) and my son is in Belfast at the moment.

      As to your list, very interesting. I only read two of them, "I know this much is true", read it a couple of years ago, I love everything by Wally Lamb, I read "We are water" last year, loved it.

      The other one is "Wolf Hall" which I read recently and went and ordered "Bring Up the Bodies" right away. ;)

      Will have to check on the others. I'm sure there are some of them that I will like.

      Have a great week,