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My Dream of You

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,888 Ratings  ·  257 Reviews
A New York Times notable book and bestseller, this debut novel from Irish Times columnist Nuala O'Faolain takes on life and love with Dickensian flair and the striking intimacythat characterized her bestselling and acclaimed memoir, Are You Somebody?

Set in Ireland and spanning a century and a half, My Dream of You unfolds the compelling stories of two women and their ques
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourtIn the Woods by Tana FrenchThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeUlysses by James JoyceDubliners by James Joyce
Best Irish Books
55th out of 500 books — 419 voters
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourtDubliners by James JoyceDracula by Bram StokerThe Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats
Best Irish Literature
77th out of 445 books — 530 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 17, 2012 Marguerite rated it really liked it
This is one of two books by journalists I read this week. This book can't be easily pigeonholed, which might put off some readers. But it appealed to me, maybe even more, because of its ambiguity. The novel tells the tale of Kathleen de Burca, an Irish-born travel writer coming to grips with her terrible past in midlife while she tries to chase down the true story of adultery among the aristocracy during the famine. Kathleen's desire to understand passion, and its absence, leads her to reflect o ...more
Carla Acheson
Sep 15, 2015 Carla Acheson rated it it was amazing
My Dream of You is one of those powerful stories that stays with you long after reading.

The story is narrated by Kathleen, a travel writer from Ireland, who at the death of a close colleague and friend begins to evaluate her life at the age of fifty. Struggling with loneliness and a deep lack of fulfilment she embarks on a journey back to the Ireland she left at the age of seventeen in order to confront her roots and deal with the demons of her past.

Much of the book is devoted to Kathleen’s memo
Maria Stevenson
Sep 04, 2014 Maria Stevenson rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 18, 2012 Allie rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-to-burn
After reading some of the reviews which reference feminism, self-discovery, and the crossover between literature and love, I was expecting something along the lines of A.S. Byatt's "Possession." Instead, this book was the depressing tale of a woman who is unable to say no to dreary and squalid sex (at one point her elderly lover takes out his dentures to take her to bliss) and the historic/tragic love affair she is researching is even less interesting. The protagonist has the inner life of a bla ...more
Sep 06, 2007 Isabelle rated it it was amazing
I had heard an intrview of Nuala O'Faolain on NPR as her book was coming out, and I had so enjoyed her wit that I rushed to the store to buy the book. What a great idea that was! I was so swept away by the double tale of the book that I called in sick from work to read through until I was done. It is like a duet in harmony on the destinies of women in Ireland, today and one century ago, young or middle-aged, always not quite loved enough and having to pay the price for being vibrant beings. Even ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Knitme23 rated it really liked it
I have read her first book, a memoir, and then Julie sent me "My Dream of You" in the Bodacious Box of Books, and I loved it. It's long, and starts pretty slowly, seeming like one of those novels in which the main character keeps doing dumb and self-destructive things again, again, and again. . . but then it had bolts of humor, and some characters who offered insight and common sense, and the main character seemed to be growing and learning from her dumb actions, and I ended up reading it in abo ...more
Julia Mandell
Jan 29, 2008 Julia Mandell rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I was compelled by the subject matter, being a single woman, though only in my twenties--it's about a women in her forties (or fifties? can't remember), never married, who starts examining her life after the death of a friend and ends up returning to Ireland and memories of the family and childhood she ran away from at 17. I loved the character for her entirely normal yet revolutionary life--I've never read a novel before that focused on a modern single woman in suc ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
Wow. What a beautiful, powerful, heavy book. It's an enlightening look at one woman's redefinition of identity and love and passion, her struggles with her past and the memory of her mother and her entry into middle age, and how she learns to heal. Just riveting. Also some absolutely lovely descriptions of Ireland's scenery and people.
Sep 26, 2013 Brandi rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish, phd-thesis
My first read was 8-13 May 2012.
Second read: 20-25 September 2013. I added a star this time around; having read a lot more Irish literature in the intervening time, and reading it critically for my PhD thesis, I was able to engage with the text on a much deeper level, and it meant a lot more to me this time.

Nuala O’Faolain’s My Dream of You reads like lyric poetry. The reader is transported through 500 pages of beautifully articulated sensations, feelings and images – “All along that stretch of
Mar 27, 2011 Anne rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
I did not like anything about this book. The author tried to make a connection between two women: one a current day woman who sleeps around, and the other a woman from the Irish gentry in the 1850's that according to court records had an affair. The modern day woman couldn't keep herself from sleeping with anyone, literally and frequently. A possibility that there could be any connection between these two women is extremely remote; yet, the author kept insisting there was. Frankly, I wonder how ...more
Angela Dawn
Apr 04, 2007 Angela Dawn rated it it was amazing
Layered and atmospheric,
this book relates, within the context of an historical divorce case, the tragic life of the Irish country people during what is euphemistically called "The Potato Famine", but was actually a form of genocide manipulated by the English aristocracy, as well as a writer's struggle with the emotional emptiness of her own life.
Ms. O'Faolain's honesty in portraying women's sexuality is also refreshing.
The painful loneliness that her semi-autobiographical central character, an
Apr 30, 2009 Christie rated it really liked it
This book wasn't at all what I thought it would be, but it drew me in because the writing was so beautiful. It took me a while to get into the book, but once I was over a hundred pages into it, I became totally intrigued. First of all, I love the way the author descibes Ireland, how beautiful it is, how scenic. And I love the details about the Famine, and how the author weaves past and present together in the text. This story is about a woman who finally decides to confront her past, and who ope ...more
May 25, 2013 Sherri rated it really liked it
Hmm, interesting to read the mixed reviews of this book on GoodReads. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author is a grand storyteller and her language drew me in. I learned more about Ireland and the Potato Famine than I had known before and loved how she portrayed the people the main character, Kathleen , got to know during her sojourn in her homeland. And I really loved the story of the main character, who seemed very human and real to me. No, there are no neatly wrapped happy endings to the book, ...more
B the BookAddict
May 13, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
While this book is essentially about one modern day woman's struggle with loneliness, there is an amazing sub-story when she researches the potato famine of 1839 in Ireland and learns of the moral and legal difficulties facing Irish women who wanted to divorce in that time.

I really liked this book because it taught me so much about a period of history that I was so unaware of. As many have pointed out, the main character was indeed flawed in her judgements regarding her personal life. But I thin
Tynan Power
Jan 12, 2011 Tynan Power rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book. I was completely blown away by the quality of the writing and was quickly drawn in to the story. This surprised me a little as I don't think the description of the book was able to convey how absorbing and well-written the book is. It is the kind of book that is worth reading even if there is nothing about the plot that seems intriguing.

This book isn't historical fiction, per se, though I put it on that shelf. It includes a story within a story, and that inner tale is his
Jan 07, 2015 Whitney rated it liked it
I have no area of expertise about this book. I am reluctant to "judge" it. It's written from a perspective of an Irish woman, who is a travel writer, and she lives most of her life in London. She is not close with her family, but she is very emotionally close with her co-workers, and her growth as a mature adult is mapped sporadically. She finds her own way through unconventional means. She tries to avoid the inevitable; she tries to "deny her roots" so to speak. It's easier for her to "pass" as ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Jennyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. Having recently finished O'Faolain's truly excellent autobiography "Are You Somebody?" I had high hopes for this, her fictional debut. The book's main character and many of the events are quite similar to her "real life," making this seem a pale imitation. Hard to say if I'd have liked it more not knowing how close the story came to the biography, but I think I would have. There are times when you utterly want to wring the neck of t ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was ok
This book was lent to me by my daughter and I really wanted to like it. It is well-written and believable but somehow I found myself disliking the author, and that impacted my appreciation of the story. I surprised myself because I found that I was passing judgement...which is not a good thing. AAGH! Despite my experience I think it is worthwhile and something that women who choose "the road not taken" would really enjoy.
Clare Fitzgerald
Apr 02, 2016 Clare Fitzgerald rated it really liked it
For my vacation reading while I was in Ireland, I wanted to stay with the Irish theme (since I was in Ireland) but perhaps deviate slightly from the history books (since I would be going to a million museums, and also I was running short on Irish history books), so I instead packed — among other volumes — the copy of Nuala O'Faolain's My Dream of You that I rescued from my aunt's Irish lit collection over the summer. It turned out to be a perfect choice for reading on the plane, and sometimes ...more
Bruce Reiter
Oct 15, 2015 Bruce Reiter rated it really liked it
Great novel. Ms O'Faolain follows two major plot lines to satisfactory conclusions. One follows the case of supposed adultery by an Irish aristocratic family during the Famine Years and the other a modern Irish woman coming to terms with her life and family. As an outsider, I find the Irish spend too much of their time finding fault with themselves and apologizing profusely for it.

Ms O'Faolain weaves beautiful descriptive sentences of nature in Ireland and saves her short terse elements for the
Jun 17, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing
Rarely these days does a book come your way that is so beautifully old fashioned in a way that modern literature is not. This is. It's big, rambling, and absorbing in a way that you cannot let go of it even when you aren't reading it. ,

The characters are bluntly human, frail, and brimming full of life and despair and absolutely everything that makes life simultaneously painful and beautiful.

It's a story about a woman who thinks she knows who she is but discovers in mid-age she doesn't have a c
Feb 28, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-author
A wonderful way of returning to Ireland, through layers of storytelling, to finally discover the business of celebrating life and love is in the small things, the shared homemade dinner and the cup of tea, watching the birds in the trees, letting go of bitterness.
Mike Hobbins
There is no doubt the Nuala O'Faolain is a talented writer, whose can make you smile, laugh and even bring a tear to your eye. 'A Dream of You', however, did not sustain my interest; the novel seemed to lose its way as it veered between chick-lit and historical novel or, more accurately, romance. While the Talbot case produced some fascinating insights into the social mores and prejudices of mid-nineteenth century Ireland, Kathleen's carefree adventures as a carefree, sexually liberated travel w ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Lida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuala O'Faolain has created a beautiful mix of memoir, fiction, and historical fiction in this book. While at first I thought the story was going to be very depressing, in the end I found it introspective and the cause for reflection. As her main character, Kathleen, faces her 50s and the loss of her best friend, she realizes that she is alone, disconnected, and worried about life passing her by. While she connects with her family and homeland, makes new friends and a brief passion, she also dis ...more
Jan 21, 2014 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars.

There were times in this book I truly despised the main character. She seemed selfish and had such different experiences from myself that at times I had a hard time sympathizing. That being said, I do not believe one must like the main character to learn something.

I love how the story unfolded, revealing little bits at a time, pieces together the puzzle that is Kathleen's life. The beauty is truly in the discovery.

Ultimately, I think this book is about the prisons we build
Sep 13, 2009 Larry rated it it was amazing
A great story!
Nuala! you will be sadly missed.
"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam"
Mar 26, 2014 Betsy rated it liked it
The modern story of the writer, and the story of the mid-19th century divorce she goes to Ireland to research, are readable but I didn't find them very interesting. The interesting part was where she describes the Irish potato famine, something I know little about. It struck me that it was happening just before and during the California gold rush, which I've heard a lot about having grown up in the CA gold country. It would be interesting to find out if there were Irish refugees in the gold fiel ...more
May 13, 2008 Meghan rated it it was amazing
Powerful. I was moved by this book so much I wrote a poem about it.
Dec 22, 2013 Alesa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very Irish, very literary book, which does a wonderful job jumping back and forth between the present and 1848 Ireland (immediately after the worst of the Famine). The narrator's voice is both quirky and sympathetic, making you feel that she's speaking directly to you, even when she's saying something brilliant (like using a very classy and appropriate metaphor).

The best part for me was when an elderly librarian wrote down what a typical landowner's "lodge" (not one of the grand Big Houses) wo
Jan 14, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I first heard about Nuala O'Faolain from an NPR story about her life and recent death from cancer. I immediately went to the library to check out her autobiography, "Are You Somebody?" It was beautifully written and with such uncomfortable honesty. Then I saw this book, her first and novel at a used book sale. Again she writes touchingly and angrily of the struggles of growing up a woman in Catholic Ireland. Throughout the novel, the main character, Kathleen, undergoes some intense soul searchin ...more
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Nuala O'Faolain is an Irish journalist, columnist and writer who attended a convent school in the north of Ireland, studied English at University College, Dublin, and medieval English literature at the University of Hull before earning a postgraduate degree in English from Oxford.

She returned to University College as a lecturer in the English department, and later was journalist, TV producer, boo
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“The wait is long, my dream of you does not end.” 252 likes
“..though silence must add intensity to your intimate moments, it must also shrivel your soul to lie beside someone who doesn't talk to you.” 13 likes
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