My Dream of You
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My Dream of You

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,602 ratings  ·  230 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 que...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Riverhead Trade (first published January 1st 2001)
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Best Irish Books
38th out of 361 books — 331 voters
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Best Irish Literature
89th out of 376 books — 440 voters

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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
Maria Stevenson
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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
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
I recently reread this novel, having read it at least once before and possibly twice. This is a book which taught me a valuable life lesson. I also love the author's openness and honesty in exploring what her main character's Kathleen's emotional needs are. Kathleen recently lost a very good friend and is also taking a break from her job to write a historical novel. She spends a good deal of time doing research, but seems unfocused about her book. What I took from this novel is that many women d...more
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
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
Bette BookAddict
Easily just as good the second time round. Lots of info about the potato famine in Ireland, the rights (or lack thereof) of a woman in that time and also a good modern day story. A fuller review to follow.
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...more
Mar 27, 2011 Anne rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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.
Bette BookAddict
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...more
Tynan Power
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...more
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.
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...more
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
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
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...more
A great story!
Nuala! you will be sadly missed.
"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam"
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
Powerful. I was moved by this book so much I wrote a poem about it.
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...more
Jan 14, 2011 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
A middle-aged Irish writer travels back to her abandoned homeland in the midst of a mid-life crisis, tracking down information on a factual case of adultery from the Famine era, while looking for passion in her own life. If it sounds a little Oprah-ish, it was. The main character was likeable enough, strong but flawed, but her quest for passion was somewhat dramatic, and when she found it, the payoff was not always great, at least from my vantage point. The image of the gentleman removing his de...more
Je qualifierai ce livre de différent et non pas de chef d'œuvre. Ce qui m'a plu est l'impression de spontanéité, de sincérité de l'auteur, sincérité mêlée de retenue, et de réflexions personnelles qui portent à croire que le récit est autobiographique. Tout ça fait qu'à la lecture je me suis sentie assez proche de l'auteur bien que nous n'ayons rien en commun (ni l'âge, ni l'origine, ni la profession). J'y ai trouvé un côté universel.

Le parallèle entre la vie du personnage et la vie de Mme Talb...more
Travel journalist Kathleen de Burca is about to turn 50 years old. Her best friend has died suddenly, her job suddenly seems meaningless, she has no current lover and few friends, and her family relationships are distant, both emotionally and physically. Searching for a new direction, she decides to investigate a controversial court case that took place 150 years ago in Ireland, where she was born, and where she left two decades previously, vowing never to return. Her sojourn there becomes an in...more
A good book for me to read because I was so engaged in the story - my reactions to the protagonist Caitlin kept changing. At first I did not like her - she was jaded, sardonic, superficial, everything about "modern" that I do not like. But as she travels back to Ireland and tries to write the story of a local divorce scandal that happened in the mid-19th century, Caitlin begins to reconnect with her past, her country, and her self. I felt a bit like a psychiatrist hearing and watching a 50 year...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...more
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“The wait is long, my dream of you does not end.” 200 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.” 8 likes
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