What the Publishers Say…
This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings.
But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime.
What did I think?
A masterpiece from Anne. One of her best novels yet. The story was an absolute joy to read. The characters are brilliantly formed, engaging and there’s not a word wasted in the book.
The story begins in Katherine’s house on Dartmouth Square in the voice of her daughter Norah. It is Norah’s 21st birthday party and Anne effortlessly draws the scene and the characters. I loved the way she wove famous people into the story. It was also tempting to wonder who the Katherine, Duggan or Boyd O’Neill were based on.
We then move to the present day. Norah is now married, a mother of two and a recognised, successful author. Norah is contacted by a student Holly Devane who is writing her thesis on Katherine. This stirs up memories for Norah. She reminisces about her mother and her life against a backdrop of an unhappy marriage.
I loved the voice of Norah. It would be wonderful to sit down and talk to her about Katherine and their relationship. Anne captures the early 70’s in Dublin. I loved the sentence “Dublin smelt like the upstairs of a bus”. Although it was more the late 70’s for me the same challenges, issues, nightclubs and bars were the same. The memories of going to Smyth’s for drinks after the rugby – a must in 70’s Dublin. The scene of Norah sitting there with her glass of Harp, the cheese and onion crisps (would have been Tayto) on the stitched vinyl banquette is perfectly captured.
Penguin Ireland/ 9781787332065

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