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The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien
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The Country Girls (1960)

by Edna O'Brien

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5541526,806 (3.54)125
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    My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both are gorgeous novels about young girls' friendships and how they're complicated by class, family, desire.
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    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (Imprinted)
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English (11)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien is a semi-autobiographical story of a young girl growing up in 1960’s Ireland. Caithleen Brady is the child of a violent drunkard father and a long-suffering mother. She is raised in poverty with their farm slowly being run into the ground. She is close to two females, her mother and her friend Baba. Tragically she is about to lose her mother and her friend is really jealous and mean spirited.

The two girls go to convent school together, although much of the time they are at odds. Caithleen is naive, a romantic dreamer while Baba is a realist, one who always looks out for herself. The girls eventually arrange to have themselves expelled and they then go to Dublin where Caithleen works in a market and Baba attends secretarial school. Baba wants freedom, to live the single party life while Caithleen, in her search for stability and love, gets involved with an older married man from her village. When each girl’s lifestyle falls apart, they must now learn to rely upon themselves.

The Country Girls is the first novel of Edna O’Brien and my first read by this author. I loved the story, although my own upbringing was very different, I found I could identify with Caithleen at times. Although written in straight-forward prose and an easy read, there is a lot going on underneath the simple language. Ireland of the 1960s was tightly controlled by the Catholic Church and it’s male dominated society. Women had very little freedom of choice, they were expected to marry or become nuns. This book touches on many subjects like alcohol abuse, repression of women and the hypocrisy of religion which caused quite an uproar when it was first published. Personally, I was totally engaged by this deceptively simple, quiet, coming-of-age story. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jan 23, 2019 |
between 2 and 2.5. i liked the writing and the way it all sounded on the page but the story and the characters didn't resonate with me at all. until nearly the end i couldn't read baba's words as anything other than awful toward caithleen, never said with affection or care, even as caithleen called baba her best friend. mr gentleman was so creepy and gross and i hope it's obvious to today's readers that he was grooming her for years. there's good stuff here about poverty and the way of life of the day, for sure, and the language is nice. i was never too interested in the story, though. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Apr 20, 2018 |
A tough one to rate. A very easy read, actual would be fine for high school.

This coming-of-age story features two girls, Caitleen and Baba. They have known each other for most of their lives, and Baba has always been a bit of a bully. When they go to a convent school together (Cait gets a scholarship), Baba decides they are best friends. And she continues to Bully her friend into doing what she (Baba) wants.

Cait is a hardworking, kind, sweet girl who is also not bright or brave enough to put Baba in her place. After the death of her mother and her father's selling of his inherited property, Cait stays with Baba's family.

I'm not sure why this book is seen as a classic. Perhaps these girls' lives--poor and not poor, the drinking of so many men, being from the country, educational opportunities for girls, and then their lives in Dublin--is so classic for Ireland at the time? ( )
1 vote Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
The Country Girls Edna O'Brien
★★★
Set in Ireland in the 1950's this is the coming of age story of 2 Irish Country Girls Caithleen and Baba.
The story covers their early life in the country and their escape to the bright lights of Dublin as teenagers.
I was really looking forward to an Aga Saga type story but sadly this didn't meet my expectations, perhaps as the first book in a trilogy the author viewed this more as an introduction to her characters that a fully developed stand alone book.
That said it covers key points in the lives of the protagonists just not in enough depth for me to really "feel" the characters ( )
1 vote BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Caithleen, a poor rural Irish teenager in the 1950s, loses her mother and moves in with the family of her friend, and rival, Baba as her violent and alcoholic deadbeat father is no fit guardian. Together they head off to a depressingly strict convent boarding school and then off to independent lives amidst the comparatively bright lights of Dublin. Not your typical coming of age tale in that there doesn't appear to be a single age-appropriate suitor or even young male acquaintance available for these two, just a full complement of pervs and creeps. Certainly not a romantic look at adolescence. ( )
  KateVz | Jan 13, 2016 |
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Book description
The story of childhood friends Kate and Baba, two girls living in rural Ireland who yearn to grow up and move to the big city.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452283434, Paperback)

Meet Kate and Baba, two young Irish country girls who have spent their childhood together. As they leave the safety of their convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their somewhat tumultuous relationship. Kate, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love, while Baba just wants to experience the life of a single girl. Although they set out to conquer the world together, as their lives take unexpected turns, Kate and Baba must ultimately learn to find their own way.

"It's a difficult trip, this coming of age . . . O'Brien tells it with love and outrage, compassion and contempt." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"A treasure . . . powerful . . . intelligent . . . ironic." (The New York Times Book Review)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:29 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Kate and Baba, two young Irish country girls who have spend their childhood together, leave the safety of their convent school in search of life and love in the city. Kate is dreamy and romantic and yearning for love, while Baba just wants to experience life as a single woman. Although they set out together, their lives take unexpected turns with each learning to find her own way.… (more)

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