Like Rupert Everett's memoir last month, our June Non-Fiction choice has a candid tone and an extraordinary cast of characters. Edna O'Brien's COUNTRY GIRL opens in 1930, in a ramshackle but relatively grand house in County Clare where O'Brien was born. Her family, once rich but now impoverished by her father's gambling, struggle to maintain standards. O'Brien is sent to a convent, where she falls in love with a nun; moves to Dublin to be seduced by the writer Ernest Gébler and finally flees to London where she writes her novel The Country Girls and becomes a literary superstar. During the early 1960s, she sleeps with poets; she takes LSD with RD Laing and Sean Connery; she throws wild parties at her big house in Chelsea and hangs out with Paul McCartney, Gore Vidal, Princess Margaret and Jackie Onassis.
Throughout this lyrical and astonishing book, there is a pervading sense of O'Brien's contradictory character: beautiful, talented, controversial and brave yet unable to drive, or swim, or be alone. Most of all, she is a survivor, particularly of the oppressive institutions and beliefs that suppressed so many of her contemporaries. For that reason alone, hers is a remarkable story.
Booker-prize winner (and previous Mumsnet Bookcub webchatter) Anne Enright has written an excellent review of COUNTRY GIRL in the Guardian - you can read it here.
We've just realised that the books were never sent out by Faber We've asked them to send them out asap and let us know. As soon as we hear they've gone, we'll email those who will be receiving books to let you know to expect one in the post. Apols for this error but a nice surprise in store for those who's names were chosen as this is a perfect summer read.