Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Almost There” as Want to Read:
Almost There
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Almost There

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  457 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
In 1996, a small Irish press approached Nuala O'Faolain to publish a collection of her opinion columns from the Irish Times. She offered to write an introduction to explain the life experience that had shaped this Irish woman's views. Convinced that none but a few diehard fans of the columns would ever see the book, she took the opportunity to interrogate herself as to wha ...more
Published June 3rd 2004 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published November 30th 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Almost There, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Almost There

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
124th out of 492 books — 420 voters
Adaptation by Malinda LoInheritance by Malinda LoThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonSanta Olivia by Jacqueline CareySexy Serenity, a Memoir by Miranda K. Simon
Bisexual Women Fiction and Memoirs
105th out of 145 books — 29 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 845)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 06, 2008 Theadra rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Allison, Gretchen, Jennifer, Jenny
Recommended to Theadra by: NPR
I think this cemented Ms. O'Faolain as my favorite author. So often I read feminist or woman's literature I feel unaffected or unable to touch it. But I am deeply impacted by her.

I have very little in commen with Ms. O'Faolain and can not pretend to understand her experience. We are seperated by generation, country, marital status, familial connection but I profoundly "get" her struggle with identity.

Read "Are you Somebody" and "My Dream of You" first. It will mean so much more to you.
Dec 08, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
The first memoir by Nuala O'Faolain, "Are You Somebody?" took my breath away. I was so happy with her honesty about Ireland and how Irish families can devastate their members. This memoir is set in middle age. Nuala is still grappling with her sexuality and she is still being haunted by her mother and father and their inadequacies. Manhattan gives her joy and a place to start anew. However, 9.11 takes the comfort of that place away. This book is depressing. The author says that middle age can be ...more
Mar 06, 2013 Jo rated it really liked it
A middle-aged, single, and childless Irish female columnist recalls her impoverished childhood, discusses writing and relationships (including sex!), and reflects on aging. I found her courageous look at her life to be heartwarming, funny, sad, and enlightening. Her insights are charming and honest. She is sincere both about her accomplishments and regrets.

Her story jumps around which bothered me until I realized that it reflects her personal confusion with her life, especially her lonely and u
Mar 06, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
The honesty in which Ms. O'Faolain writes her memoirs and autobiographies is startling. She puts herself out there and lays blame at her own doorstep to the mess of her adult personal life. I appreciated the honesty about her relationship with one particular man, Joseph, and realizes her lack of understanding of who he was in reality was a certain level of denial she had kept willingly. She is also very honest about her relationship with her siblings and with her most recent companion and more p ...more
Jan Marquart
Apr 27, 2011 Jan Marquart rated it it was amazing
Nuala O'Faolain is a memoir writer. Her book Almost There is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story about the soul of a writer. I use this book in all my writing workshops to teach the power of memoir. Nuala O'Faolain is philosophical and brutal in her honesty about her low points in life, moments we would all rather not remember. You'll love it.
Elizabeth Quinn
Jun 08, 2012 Elizabeth Quinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dublin journalist Nuala O'Faolain thought she was writing the preface to a collection of her Irish Times columns when she produced Are You Somebody?, a memoir that was a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. One of nine children of a famous philandering father and a cold, disappointed and ultimately alcoholic mother, O'Faolain's memoir detailed her growing up in 1940s and 1950s Ireland, enduring a strict but narrow education by abusive nuns and a country smothered by an rigid patriarchy dire ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Linden rated it liked it
i enjoy a meandering memoir, and this was a charming book and a quick read. i listened to the audio version, and the narration by the author was excellent. i think that it does target a somewhat specific audience (of which i am not a part), to whom it could be more meaningful: older women, particularly those who may find themselves living alone, and irish people, particularly irish women. o'faolain has some interesting meditations on friendship, being alone, family, pets, and politics, but there ...more
Feb 09, 2015 Phredric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
O'Faolain came highly recommended. I read her novel 'My dream of you' and thought she wrote well but didn't care for the heroine nor the historical sub-plot. So I read 'Are you somebody' which was brutally honest but rambling and far too much a litany of 'this happened and this happened and then this happened' for my taste, but the last chapter was good, it didn't save the book but on the strength of it I decided to give 'Almost there' a chance.

In this book too, there is brutal, almost self-hati
I've had this book for years. I randomly picked up O'Faolain's first memoir, Are You Somebody?, at a book sale and I liked it, although with reservations. So over the years, I've plucked both this second memoir and her novel out of book sale stacks.

This second memoir is rather... odd. The first half is basically about writing the first memoir, and about its reception and her reaction to it. A memoir about a memoir is not something I would have thought to find interesting, but since I flew throug
Adrienne Su
Bravely willing to say the unsayable, this captures many of the conflicts writers face, in addition to problems specific to women writers. For me the most resonant undercurrent is the chronic struggle between solitude and togetherness: the writer's need and desire to be alone in tension with the human need to be meaningfully connected with another. This struggle particularly clashes with expectations of women in both Ireland and the (mostly urban) United States. Having stumbled across this book ...more
Dec 11, 2014 Rita rated it liked it
Just saw that O'Faolain died in 2008 [at the age of 68]. She didn't foresee that while writing this third volume of memoir.

O'Faolain really tries to be honest with herself in this book, honest about herself and her fears and inner monsters. I have a lot of respect for her doing that. She is not at all sophisticated in psychoanalyzing herself but that makes the soul searching she does here all the more touching. And maybe it is that naivete that endears her to many readers [she writes moving
Jun 09, 2010 Jackie rated it really liked it
The follow-up to her memoir - "Are You Somebody?" - I enjoyed this one even more...especially the bits about how the publication of her first book changed her life and the lives of many of her readers. To me, she's one of those authors that you'd just like to have spot of tea with someday.
Jan 17, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How could a friend of mine call this a nothing book? Yes, it's slow paced. Yes she does complain about being childless and without a partner. But she soon learns that Love for friends, love of career , love of a pet like a child, and good memories can fulfill one just as well or better. She talks a lot about work and writing her memoir and other materials. This was helpful to a wanna be writer. She struggles with her mom's memory. In the end all her complaints maybe justified at times at others ...more
Nov 05, 2011 Ruth rated it liked it
If you ever watch tv from Britian or Ireland, you might notice how ordinary people look--a little extra weight, sloping chins, teeth that are not a perfect white fence. I always find it refreshing to see actual people, because in US tv land even the quirky characters have a airbrushed quality--thinness, styled hair, skin that will make even the most self confident of persons sigh over their mottled being.

The author of this book is a female Irish writer. She is past middle age, single, plump, and
Esther Dushinsky
Feb 27, 2016 Esther Dushinsky rated it really liked it
Just like her first memoir, Are You Somebody?, this book leaves you feeling somewhat overwhelmed with contradictory emotions and thoughts. Nuala is very honest about the demons that have haunted her from her childhood and how that affected her. The ending is haunting and the feeling of it being unfinished is both confusing, but also gives one hope that perhaps her ending will be ok.
Jan 11, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
I listened to this book after hearing the author on a NPR interview program in 2005. I was captivated by her voice (I am a sucker for English/Scottish/ Irish accents) and intrigued by the answers she gave to the host's questions. I wanted to understand what made her so prickly and defensive.

This is actually the second volume of her memoirs, the first being Are you somebody? I recommend reading it first.

To the story, it was very descriptive and I could see some of the places in my minds eye so ea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 12, 2009 Edithandersen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuala writes with brutal honesty -- honesty that takes introspection and courage. She is a single woman, slept with many, with no children and a bottle and a cigarette to keep her company. She is a restless spirit, raised Catholic -- she died in 2008. She became known in the US, then at the age of near 60, with her book, "Are You Somebody." Something she struggled to answer for herself. I read an interview she did when she had little time left to live. She said all goodness had been taken out of ...more
Verena Teixeira
Feb 26, 2014 Verena Teixeira rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much. It is so raw but at the same time so poetic. It wasn't the first book that I've read from this author and it won't be the last because I still have to read My dream of you.
Anyway, she is one of my favorite authors and her life story is just amazing. She truly lived a full life and I guess she regret nothing.
Nov 05, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed 'Are You Somebody' when I read it a few years ago, so I picked this book up when I saw it in a second-hand sale.

In this book Nuala's in her sixties, quite bitter, lonely, sad, and still trying to deal with a difficult upbringing, but I found it engaging. I enjoyed her comparisons of living in Ireland versus America, the Irish versus the American character, and her take on aging. Her relationships with her family and her lovers also interested me, especially one section where sh
Yvonne Rémond-murphy
Dec 21, 2015 Yvonne Rémond-murphy rated it really liked it
This is a very frank and honest account of the middle age from an Irish woman's point of view. The writer's complicated family relationships, her own approach to feminism and loneliness are portrayed with alot of humility.
Sep 28, 2015 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
I truly enjoyed the first part of this book, her language was lyrical and some of her experiences resonated with me. I am eager to explore more of her work in future starting with the book she references, "Are You Somebody?"
Lori Bamber
Jul 30, 2016 Lori Bamber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathtakingly candid and gloriously written, with sentences that transcend perfection by being boldly, acutely, wisely off-kilter.

I just loved this book.
May 07, 2010 Joan rated it liked it
I almost stopped after the first chapter, but didn't, and am glad that I kept going. The author wrote this memoir at the age I am now, but we have very little, except being women and living in New York State (although for her it was temporary), in common. I haven't read her first memoir, but in this one she seems to move from a place of loneliness and deep anger to one where change, friendship, even love are possibilities. I felt hope for her at the end, but also great pity, that her relationshi ...more
Colleen Love
Jun 08, 2014 Colleen Love rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and will read other books by this author.
Apr 10, 2009 Sull rated it liked it
Excellent and moving book that was so worth reading--for insights into loneliness, depression, growing up dysfunctionally Irish, and the arrival of redeeming joys when one least expects them.

It was scary to me how some of her life events mirrored mine, but fascinating how she analysed and re-analysed and then deconstructed further every last nuance of her relationships with family, sig. others, etc. Good, good book. Makes me want to find her first memoir. (I'm sorry to learn she died recently (?
Oct 12, 2008 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not for the faint of heart!
Introspections of a middle age Irish woman who had a childhood which still haunts her. This book is cutting,healing,hard, soft, discouraging and hopeful. Parts of it are poetic, as Ms O'Faolain expresses the gifts of words she has been given.
I am reminded, again, what a blessing goodly parents are and what a gift it is to have the structure of the gospel standards to guide us through this life. Without them, our brother and sisters go off on so many useless tangents.
Mar 03, 2010 VeganMedusa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ireland
I'd never heard of this author but just thought the book sounded interesting. It certainly was. It's not often I feel like I'm getting real honesty and soul-searching from an autobiography/memoir. That someone who's led such an interesting life still feels like a bit of a failure and still has immense unresolved issues from childhood, makes me feel a bit better. I especially liked hearing about her jealousy of John's daughter - to be that honest about such awful feelings took a lot of courage.
Oct 05, 2009 Dawne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous writing lifts this memoir out of the doldrums that sometimes define a writer's life. See Ireland and the Irish through the eyes of an Irish Times columnist who finds herself suddenly famous after fifty. Her first memoir, originally puplished as a forward to her collected columns, gained unexpected and widespread popularity. This memoir explores the phenomenon of fame at a late age and how it affects love and writing. A truly beautiful book that tells several stories at once.
Aug 08, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
An honest memoir.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 28 29 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Sailor in the Wardrobe
  • A Song for Mary: An Irish-American Memory
  • All Will Be Well: A Memoir
  • Wings of Hope
  • O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare
  • Mother Ireland: A Memoir
  • 44: Dublin Made Me
  • The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit
  • The Course of Irish History
  • Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance
  • The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology
  • The Danger Tree: Memory, War, And The Search For A Family's Past
  • Franco's Crypt: Spanish Culture and Memory Since 1936
  • Playing It by Heart: Taking Care of Yourself No Matter What
  • Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collision of Two Intelligent Species
  • Amongst Ourselves: A Self-Help Guide to Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Mend My Broken Heart
  • Twenty Years A-Growing
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 about Nuala O'Faolain...

Share This Book

“...friendship is something you do.” 7 likes
More quotes…