Are You Somebody

Are You Somebody

The Accidental Memoir of A Dublin Woman

Book - 2009
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"You don't want the book to end; it glows with compassion and you want more, more because you know this is a fine wine of a life, richer as it ages."--Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes

One of nine children born into a penniless North Dublin family, Nuala O'Faolain was saved from a harrowing childhood by her love of books and reading. Though she ultimately became one of Ireland's best-known columnists, her professional success did little to ease her loneliness and longing for a deep connection to the world. Are You Somebody? distills her experiences into a wisdom that can only come from an obstinate refusal to shrink from life.

This commemorative edition of her landmark memoir celebrates O'Faolain's remarkable life and work with a new foreword from Frank McCourt as well as additional archival materials. Strikingly vivid and starkly emotional, Are You Somebody? is, like O'Faolain herself, a singular example of courage, honesty, and bold living.

Publisher: New York : H. Holt, 2009.
Edition: 2nd ed
ISBN: 9780805089875
Branch Call Number: OFAOLAI OFA
Characteristics: 215 p.


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Feb 06, 2017

I enjoyed this book; it was honest and frank. But more importantly it resonated with me as a woman who was raised in a devoutly Christian upbringing while also wanting more for myself than simply a husband and children. The notes at the back of the book detail feedback from other readers, predominantly female who felt the same. My granny was raised in Ireland and had a profound effect of my youth, sometimes living with us. Everything was about marriage and finding a good man, even when there were examples all around us of rushed marriages that were failing because the women did not know enough about the men they were marrying. And of course, a lot of the rush is to avoid premarital sex (a sin that requires discipline) which is a terrible premise upon which to make a major life decision.

Ireland, I believe, is a microcosm of strict Christianity. It seems to have its own rules, regulations and ways of doing things that is quite black and white. Some of these characteristics are charming and endearing. Others are stifling. This is echoed in other books such as Angela's Ashes, Brooklyn, Nora Webster and Secret Scripture. Fascinating to read about and enlightening as to this cultural trickle-down effect in my own family.

Loved this:
p. 24 "The most useful thing I brought out of my childhood was confidence in reading. I was born and I learnt to read."

The author mentions begging one man to marry her without even really realizing she was doing it, it was just so engrained. But her mother said to her she didn't care how many degrees she got so long as she had a man and a couple of kids. Her mother said this after raising 9 of them, poverty stricken, primarily alone and having become a heavy drinker. It makes you see how strongly the ideas we are raised with stay, even when everything around us points to a better way.

bibliotechnocrat Dec 09, 2015

Irish newspaper columnist, Nuala O'Faolain, was asked to write an introduction to a collection of her columns - and found herself unable to stop. Introducing herself turned out to be far more complex than anticipated and this memoir is the result. Born into an Ireland that no longer exists, that had no real place for an intelligent and independent woman, O'Faolain rode the slow wave of modernity quietly asserting a place for herself, transforming and being transformed. Her voice is strong and honest compelling the narrative forward despite some of her cringeworthy choices. It truly seems as if she is unaware of the impression she might be leaving with her openness. Not to be missed.

May 14, 2015

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful memoir. A terrific read for every woman especially.

ser_library May 27, 2010

a memoir of growing up in Ireland that is much much better than Angela's Ashes

Mar 20, 2008

I found the first half of this book fascinating. Nuala's early life in Ireland is intriguing. I got lost in the latter half as I am not familiar with the people or books she describes. I did not get past this spot, but may go back to it someday.

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