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My Dream of You

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  2,000 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
MY DREAM OF YOU "INGENIOUSLY EXPLORES THE CONSUMING POWER OF BOTH PASSION AND THE PAST." "What a pleasure it is to be able to open a book and relax into the flow of a beautifully written narrative...The novel tells the story of Kathleen de Burca, an Irish travel writer living in London, who throws over her life there to return to Ireland and write a book. What she is chasi ...more
Paperback, 529 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Jul 24, 2011 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
Jul 20, 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
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
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.
Aug 03, 2011 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 06, 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.
Dec 10, 2011 Brandi rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-literature
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
Angela Dawn
Apr 03, 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
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
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
Dora Okeyo
Jul 14, 2016 Dora Okeyo rated it liked it
I don't know where to start with this book. If I were to talk about the heroine, Kathleen, then I would be taking you through a maze without Ariadne's thread to get you out. If I were to tell you about the Irish, or the Talbots then I would be selling you shirt of some kind of fiction, the one that sinks into your mind when the leaves turn brown and fall to the ground.
So, is this a beautiful read?
Is it worth your time? Well, the written word is always worth some time, but this one would
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
Apr 28, 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
Dec 07, 2010 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
Feb 08, 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.
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.
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"
May 13, 2008 Meghan rated it it was amazing
Powerful. I was moved by this book so much I wrote a poem about it.
Clare Fitzgerald
Mar 18, 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
Feb 24, 2017 Marvin rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, fiction
"My Dream of You" is a tender and revealing look at relationship going forward from an unhealthy and fearful environment in childhood. Not everyone is born healthy, wealthy and wise and some homes are not nurturing ones. This was a very disturbing story in that it displayed one person's attempt at normalcy thru devaluing her sexuality and emotion. I found the story very good, the writing exceptional and the sadness it evoked raw and personal. I enjoyed this book very much. I feel that it is qual ...more
Jun 05, 2017 Kyra rated it really liked it
What can I say except that I did not want this book to end. Superb writing, great pacing and attention to detail combine to create a riveting narrative despite not that much actually happening. Although some would argue with that last conclusion. Stuff happens, but it is the stuff that happens to too many women - it is the sub-current to our lives: the hopeful - often self-destructive - search for passion. All I know is that - without giving away any plot details - my family had to poke me hard ...more
Ghost of a Rose
May 10, 2017 Ghost of a Rose rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Dec 22, 2016 Marjie rated it liked it
A good "vacation" read about an Irish writer researching a love affair that took place during the Famine.
Elena Johansen
DNF @ page 163. I hung on longer than usual to get to the section where we go back to the past for the Talbot's story directly, but it wasn't anymore engaging than the present-day narrative. The style was heavy, bogged down with detail and stilted prose.
Mar 08, 2017 Cindy added it
a woman who has no idea who she is but ultimately the book is about forgiveness
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
Mar 23, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The book interrelates the historical past, personal memories and Katherine’s current life. I was impressed with the books ability to take events from these three times to explore love, particularly romantic love. Katherine – the main character – prefers passionate love over daily prosaic love. She examines each relationship that is in her life hoping to find examples of passionate love. Her journey is constantly disappointed. Sometimes the love stories are brutal and oppressive. Her boyfriend, H ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Angela 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 modern 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 chara
Stephanie "Jedigal"
Dec 04, 2007 Stephanie "Jedigal" rated it really liked it
I read this b/c it was a selection for my book club. Initially I thought it was going to be yet another "women's interest" book, probably (or at least hopefully) an enjoyable read, but nothing of lasting importance to me. Well, I am happy to say, I was very wrong. Oh, this book definitely will appeal mostly to women. But for excellent reason.

The narrator, Kathleen de Burca, is a single woman around age 50, who fled Ireland and her family after high school, for an England she could not become co
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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.” 270 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.” 15 likes
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