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The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue by…
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The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue (1987)

by Edna O'Brien

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I enjoyed two out of the three books in Edna O'Brien's "The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue." Probably unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the first two books, (which are on the 1,001 Books to Read before you Die list and are much stronger installments) much more than the final book.

The story mainly follows Caithleen, who has the misfortune to grow up poor with a deceased mother and drunkard father in rural Ireland. Her relationship with her frenemy Baba is all pervasive in her life and changes its course. Over the course of the series, the girls grow up and get kicked out of school, move to Dublin where they date, dance and drink with a variety of men, and later move on to marry just the wrong guys.

I disliked the switch in narration in the third book to Baba's point of view -- it really didn't provide any enlightenment about her character -- it actually made her more one-dimensional to me. I liked the first two books enough that I found the series enjoyable overall though. ( )
  amerynth | Oct 28, 2018 |
Do not read the Introduction unless you want the entire plot laid out before you read it.

The first book of the trilogy opens with gentle suspense as the ordinary daily life of a girl, her mother, and their hired man
revolves around speculation and fears about the fate of the missing, violent drunken father.

The story flows seamlessly between conversations and evocative descriptions of Irish country landscapes.
Then it moves into endless details of the interactions of the two country girls,
Caithleen passive, Baba a mean bully, and their respective mothers, passive and mean.

Men are uniformly drunk, deplorable, predatory, violent, and otherwise questionable as fathers, husbands,
friends, and priests. The Gentleman is the sole exception and eventually he peters out.

Girls get themselves expelled from their convent school and move to Dublin where Baba becomes slightly subdued since she is no longer feared by her friend.
Plot drags with clothing obsessions and boredom.

The Lonely Girl picks up two years later with some powerful landscape descriptions brightening an otherwise repetitive crawl toward seduction.
Eugene Gaillard's pursuit of innocent Kate is a long and improbable stretch where she is deserted by yet another married man.

Story moves to pathos with: "It is the only possession I have which I regard as mine, that cork with the round silver top."
It continues reciting the boring lives of two ordinary young women beset by stupidity and not transformed by any passion for creating,
for caring for others, for compassion, or for love. Empty and repetitive.

Eventually, in Girls in Their Married Bliss, Kate's needy, jealous, and fearful insecurity drives her husband away.
Eugene, who surprisingly returned to claim her after his desertion, is the only character I liked.
Despite his obsessive tendencies, he was the only intelligent one with a real sense of humor, irony, and truth.

While this may be a realistic depiction of the lives of the girls, it becomes predictably unredeemable and depressing:
"If nothing else, she'd get drunk."

Though the tame sexual episodes were shocking in their time, it is the pervasive Catholic negativity which amazed me,
expected from the priests, but unquestioned by the girls' families and the various people of the town.
It was also unusual to see no mention of father/daughter incest and Catholic complicity. ( )
  m.belljackson | Jan 6, 2018 |
The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue is a compilation of three novels that span the lives of two girls, from childhood through middle age, who were both rivals and friends in rural Ireland. The first of the three novels, The Country Girls introduces us to Caithleen and Baba. Caithleen is practically raised by a single mother, her father often drunk and absent, leaving them with little or no money most days, while Baba's father is good provider who comes home every night, even if the family isn't exactly a happy one. Together they go off to a convent school, Caithleen on scholarship, Baba out of jealousy. The second book in the set, Lonely Girls (more commonly known by the name Girl With Green Eyes), picks up where the first leaves off, in Dublin, where the girls are set to start their lives. They live together as boarders, Baba to attend school, and Caithleen working in a grocery. What they are really looking for though is freedom and men, rich if Baba has anything to say about it. The final book of the series, Girls In Their Married Bliss opens with both of the girls marriages, both of them seemingly getting exactly what they wanted. Yet nothing is ever as it seems, and life still has many surprises in store for both of them.

Both the first and second book were told by Caithleen, later known as Kate, while the last of the trilogy and the epilogue are narrated by Baba. Kate was often ruled by her emotions, and though intelligent, she let her feelings blind her to common sense and reality. Baba is far more pragmatic; she is also brazen and bold, and in my opinion makes a far more interesting character, though Kate's story is richer. In the end, I quite enjoyed all of the books and I'm glad I read them together in one book, because I'm not sure that I would have made a point to continue soon after the first.

Both The Country Girls and Girl With Green Eyes can be found on the list of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, though I actually enjoyed the last book far more. The story told in Married Bliss, while much darker, was more interesting and far richer. Yet, without the first two preceding it, it couldn't have been told. These are quintessential coming-of-age stories, both realistic and tragic, telling a story that unfolds every day, in every town and city. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien (Plume Publishing, 1960) is a difficult book that you will heartily devour. Difficult because of the always looming tragedy that the reader can instantly sense, as though the characters have no hope of escaping their bleak destinies. This is a tale of a tumultuous friendship between Caithleen "Kate" Brady and Bridget "Baba" Brennan, and the role of women in 1950s Ireland. - See more at: http://thekeytothegate.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-country-girls-trilogy-by-edna-ob... ( )
  rebeccaskey | Jul 29, 2013 |
The Country Girls Trilogy: (the omnibus includes The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl entitled also Girl with Green Eyes, Girls in Their Married Bliss and the Epilogue) by Edna O'Brien; was banned in Ireland.

My thoughts & comments:

Two girls, Caithleen & Baba are childhood friends in Ireland. This is a coming of age story that goes through the early and mid years of their lives. They attend public school and then of course the Catholic School run by the nuns, getting into all manner of trouble. Finally they are turned out of the Catholic School. Baba's family has money and there is no drunkenness nor violence at home. Caithleen's family, or Kate's, as she comes to be called is poor and full of both.
The girls end up going to Dublin where Baba attends school and Kate finds work. Baba is the leader and Kate the follower. Baba loves to party and flirt with all men while Kate is more inclined to sit back and observe. Baba is also very worldly while Kate is pretty naive and an innocent. But when she falls for a man this part of her life becomes her all and she pours everything she has into the relationship, be it right or wrong. The men she falls for seem to all be married as well.
Kate's love life and marriage do not work out well at all. One thinks that it is going to work out after all that Kate goes through to get there but she just doesn't seem to have it in her to do and say what is best for herself.
In the meantime Baba is having fun and when she marries it is not for love but for money and security. She continues to have her fun on the side.
The story is told in the first person narrative of Kate for the first two parts and the third part along with the epilogue is told in the first person narrative of Baba. I didn't understand why the switch until the end and then it made sense.
I had mixed emotions about this book until I was about a fourth of the way into it and it hit me how brilliantly the story was being told. Everything in this book is told so simply and as I read I realized: I know someone like that or: I have done/said that. I think the book is much better than it is touted to be and I gave it 4 stars.
~belva ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Sep 28, 2011 |
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For Susan Lescher
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I wakened quickly and sat up up in bed abruptly.
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Comprising The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl (aka Girl with Green Eyes), and Girls in Their Married Bliss.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452263948, Paperback)

“Delicious...whollv original...sensitive as a harp string...captures the vigilance of childhood and reproduces, eerily intact, its heightened sensations.”
Newsday

Kate and Baba are two ambitious Irish country girls in search of life: romantic Kate seeks love, while pragmatic Baba will take whatever she can get. Together they set out to conquer Dublin and the world. Under the big city’s bright lights, they spin their lives into a whirl of comic and touching misadventures, wild flirtations, and reckless passions. But love changes everything. And as their lives take unexpected and separate turns, Baba and Kate must ultimately learn to go it alone.

A beautiful portrait of the pain and joy of youth, the ruin of marriage gone wrong, and the ache of lost friendship and love, this trilogy of Edna O’Brien’s remarkable early novels is more than just a harbinger of the stunning and masterly writer she has become.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:06 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The country girls are Caithleen "Kate" Brady and Bridget "Baba" Brennan, and their story begins in the repressive atmosphere of a small village in the west of Ireland in the years following World War II. Kate is a romantic, looking for love; Baba is a survivor. Setting out to conquer the bright lights of Dublin, they are rewarded with comical miscommunications, furtive liaisons, bad faith, bad luck, bad sex, and compromise; marrying for the wrong reasons, betraying for the wrong reasons, fighting in their separate ways against the overwhelming wave of expectations forced upon "girls" of every era."--Back cover.… (more)

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