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The Country Girls (1960)

by Edna O'Brien

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Country Girls trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7723128,377 (3.61)179
Edna O'Brien's wonderful, wild and moving novel shocked the nation on its publication in 1960. Adapted for the stage by the author,The Country Girls, the play, is a highly theatrical and free-flowing telling of this classic coming of age story.
  1. 10
    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (Imprinted)
  2. 10
    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.
  3. 00
    The Dark by John McGahern (Anonymous user)

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» See also 179 mentions

English (23)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I could have categorized The Country Girls under "A Trilogy," and perhaps reading all three novels would have helped me appreciate this one more. Not being Irish, Catholic or a child of the '50s (much less female) prevented me from comprehending the groundbreaking nature of Edna O'Brien's story without the insights provided in the introduction (which I read after the novel and should be taken with a grain of feminist salt).

The Country Girls is the story of two young Irish girls, Caithleen and Bridget, who maintain a tenuous friendship through the death of Cait's mother and their "incarceration" in the convent they were sent to, ostensibly to be educated. During this time, fourteen-year-old Cait begins a highly romanticized affair with a much older married man referred to as Mr. Gentleman due to her difficulty pronouncing his surname. She is ultimately expelled from the school her family cannot afford without the scholarship she earns after succumbing to the malignant influence of her purported friend. Whereupon the girls take up joint residency of a room in a lower-class boardinghouse in Dublin and their "education" continues.

Another book on all versions of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, The Country Girls reads like a train wreck in the making, with the premonition of catastrophe awaiting in the subsequent volumes. ( )
  skavlanj | Oct 29, 2023 |
3.5 stars. I’m reading this trilogy as part of the Dublin : One Book One City initiative. Compared to modern day this book is very quaint when it comes to sex. ( )
  thewestwing | Aug 12, 2022 |
I love the first two books. The last one and the epilogue were too depressing, I had a hard time getting through it. ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
I found this fairly boring. The bits that might have been shocking in 1960 just aren't today. That the girls get mixed up with several dirty old men is still par for the course, the more so because the girls were very ignorant. Neither girl is interesting. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jan 2, 2022 |
I Won't Get Fooled Again!
Review of the Faber & Faber eBook edition (2012) of the 2011 theatrical production based on the original novel (1960)

As previously reported in my review of the 2017 theatrical adaptation of The Country Girls titled Bamboozled, the overzealous and careless librarians of Goodreads have merged all adaptations of the novel, the trilogy, and the theatrical adaptations as if they were the same book. I found after reading the 2017 version that I could also access the now rare 2011 theatrical adaptation via the Toronto Public Library's Overdrive lending service for eBooks. This time I at least knew what I was getting into.

The 2011 version does differ in several ways from the later 2017 version. There is an extended opening scene in 2011 that precedes the opening of 2017. There are fewer songs in 2011 and some of them are performed differently (see Trivia below). It is still substantially the same play obviously and the conclusion still takes us to the same place. It was definitely interesting to see the author's change in view and what works theatrically over time.

I am still looking forward to reading the actual novel once I am able to source it. Also to perhaps disentangling the Goodreads mashup by separating some books from others.

Trivia and Link
The song "Seoithín seothó" appears in both 2011 and 2017 versions of the play. In 2011 it is sung by Baba in Act II, and in 2017 it is sung by Kate in Act II.
You can hear a version of the song as sung by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh in a YouTube posting here.
Seoithín seothó, mo stór é mo leanabh
Mo sheod gan chealg, mo chuid den tsaol mór
Seoithín seothó, nach mór é an taitneamh
Mo stóirín ina leaba ina chodladh gan bhrón
A leanbh, mo chléibh, go n-éirí do chodladh leat
Slán agus sonas a choíche 'do chomhair
Seo beannacht Mhic Dé agus téagar a Bhuime leat
Téiríg a chodladh gan bíogadh go ló-
Seoithín seothó, my baby is my treasure
My jewel without guile, my part of life
Seoithín seothó, which is a great pleasure
My sweetheart in her bed asleep without sorrow
Baby, on my chest, may you sleep
Goodbye and happiness forever 'for you
Here is the blessing of the Son of God and may his Bombard be with you
Get to sleep without waking up today.
- Google Assisted Translation from Irish
( )
  alanteder | Oct 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edna O'Brienprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lategan, BarryCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To My Mother
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I wakened quickly and sat up in bed abruptly. 
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Edna O'Brien's wonderful, wild and moving novel shocked the nation on its publication in 1960. Adapted for the stage by the author,The Country Girls, the play, is a highly theatrical and free-flowing telling of this classic coming of age story.

No library descriptions found.

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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