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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
7142726,289 (3.62)176
It is the early 1960s in a country village in Ireland. Caithleen Brady and her attractive friend Baba are on the verge of womanhood and dreaming of spreading their wings in a wider world; of discovering love and luxury and liquor and above all, fun. With bawdy innocence, shrewd for all their inexperience, the girls romp their way through convent school to the bright lights of Dublin - where Caithleen finds that suave, idealised lovers rarely survive the real world...… (more)
  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 176 mentions

English (22)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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 Bamboozled Again
Review of the Plume paperback edition (2002) of the original Hutchinson hardcover (1960)
“There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.” - George W. Bush As previously reported in my reviews of the 2017 theatrical adaptation of The Country Girls titled Bamboozled & the original 2011 theatrical adaptation titled I Won't Get Fooled Again, some overzealous and careless librarians of Goodreads have merged all adaptations of the novel and its 2 theatrical adaptations as if they were all the same book. After my initial confusion, I was finally able to source a nice copy of the 2002 Plume paperback edition of the actual novel for the bargain price of $3.50 dollars.

View image at https://i2.wp.com/www.rankred.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/The-Country-Girls.j...
Front cover of the original Hutchinson hardcover edition (1960) of 'The Country Girls". Image sourced from Wikipedia.

I enjoy joking about the experience, but I don't regret it. It was interesting to read Edna O'Brien's own theatrical adaptations and to see how they changed over time from the original 2011 staging to the later 2017 version. Both stage adaptations were faithful to the novel, but the 2011 had more of a prologue with the country life of Kate and Baba with the 2017 starting almost immediately with Kate's scholarship and the move to the convent school for both girls. Both adaptations included several Irish traditional songs, with the 2017 increasing that element. There were only a few sung and hummed songs in the novel. Both theatrical adaptations use plot elements from the sequel novel The Lonely Girl (1962) in order to provide a more uplifting ending.

The Country Girls was a groundbreaking novel with its occasional frank elements of female sexual awakening and its disparaging of the regimen at the Catholic convent school. This caused it to be banned in Ireland at the time. 60 years later these are not that shocking of course. The main theme of the novel is the bonding of Kate and Baba over time (they age from 14 to 18 during the course of the book). Baba actually starts out as being the not likeable bully of Kate back in their country youth. They bond in their years in the convent school and in their plan to escape it. The pair make for a great duo with the daydreaming romantic Kate and the adventurous daring Baba. This was a wonderful coming of age novel. ( )
  alanteder | Oct 21, 2021 |
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 |
Bamboozled
Review of the Faber & Faber revised paperback edition (2017) based on the original theatrical adaptation (2011) which was based on the original novel (1960)

I was so inspired to read The Country Girls after reading my GR friend JimZ's recent enthusiastic review that I ordered a copy immediately online. The Toronto Public Library seemed to only have reference copies of the 1960 edition. I scanned the GR editions looking for a recent publication and spotted a Faber & Faber 2017 listing and went for that one. Unfortunately, due to an overzealous, but careless, GR Librarian, that 2017 version had been merged with the novel as if it was the same work (I was obviously not paying close enough attention to the small print). It turns out it was a theatrical version that was adapted much later, first in 2011 and then revised and republished in 2017. So I've now read the cart before the horse.

This was still an entertaining adaptation and I have to assume it is at least a somewhat accurate encapsulation of the novel since it was done by Edna O'Brien herself. The 2017 theatrical version has quite a lot of singing, making it almost a musical. Various popular Irish folk songs are sung by the cast (primarily Kate and Baba) such as "Ring a Ring o' Roses", "I'll Tell My Ma When I Get Home", "The Spanish Lady", etc. throughout.

In any case, I'm still looking forward to reading the novel once I am able to source it.

Triva and Links
The 2017 theatrical version of The Country Girls was revived by the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland in 2019 and they posted two trailers for the production on YouTube here and here. ( )
  alanteder | Sep 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (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)

It is the early 1960s in a country village in Ireland. Caithleen Brady and her attractive friend Baba are on the verge of womanhood and dreaming of spreading their wings in a wider world; of discovering love and luxury and liquor and above all, fun. With bawdy innocence, shrewd for all their inexperience, the girls romp their way through convent school to the bright lights of Dublin - where Caithleen finds that suave, idealised lovers rarely survive the real world...

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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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