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3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,547 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
A tale of grief and lust, frustration and hilarity, death and family.

Penelope O’Grady and Cara Wall are risking disaster when, like teenagers in any intolerant time and place—here, a Dublin convent school in the late 1970s—they fall in love. Yet Cara, the free spirit, and Pen, the stoic, craft a bond so strong it seems as though nothing could sever it: not the bickering, n
Paperback, 309 pages
Published June 27th 1996 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1995)
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Elaine Burnes
Oct 12, 2010 Elaine Burnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lesbian
Brilliant. This might be the best-written book I've read, certainly in a long while. Still, it might not be for everyone. It's about grief, and I'm a sucker for a good grief story. It tells a week in the life of Pen (Penelope) after the death of her lover Cara. Set in 1992 (and looking back from there) in Dublin, I couldn't help but wonder, had Cara survived, might their relationship be recognized today. Pen is a closeted teacher at a Catholic girls' school so there are layers and layers to her ...more
Jul 18, 2007 alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starting on Sunday when Pen finds out that her lover has suddenly died in a car accident the book chronicles the first 6 days of her grieving. The story traverses back and forth over the course of their 13-year relationship - from their days together as "sort-of-girlfriends" in an Irish convent school to their late 20-somethings living together as "fairly faithful" lovers in Dublin. The book reads beautifully - often feeling more like poetry than prose - and yet maintains a gritty, rough-around- ...more
Dec 17, 2014 Ulla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable piece of fiction! It's sad, it's funny, it's beautiful, it's raw . . . and Emma Donaghue's writing is superb!

The love story, for that's what it is, is complicated, crazy, deep, devastating . . . I don't have words!

You just have to read it yourself!
May 23, 2008 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lesbians, people grieving
Shelves: glbtq
I first came across this book in the library when as a high schooler I had to find lesbian books covert enough to check out without feeling guilty. I loved this book. I based a lot of my choices and goals in life on what I discovered in Hood. It is a wrenching story of personal grief, but told so eloquently that you feel empathy rather than pity. I've read it a number of times since, mostly at turning points in my relationship life, and it never ceases to be a point of hope for me.
Oct 14, 2008 Red rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the best books I've read in a long while, and my favorite of Emma Donoghue's. the book is so rich with the protagonist's inner life. I actually don't want to summarize it, because the discovery of the premise is one of the more well-crafted parts of the novel, but I will say this: it's a meditation on family, loss, confidence, truth-telling, and love. it's powerful and emotional, evocative and finely detailed. this goes on my lifetime top 10.
Aug 11, 2014 Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Title - Hood

Author - Emma Donoghue

Source - Scottsdale Library (Ebook)

Summary -

The title Hood refers to the sheath of flesh which enfolds a woman's clitoris and like the body part it references, this novel is as intimate and mysterious in the feelings it protects and evokes as the tender sheath it is named after. A stunning portrayal in the psyche of a modern lesbian woman. In love and in grief.

"...I recoil. "I was only saying...'
"Everybody's always been only saying," she snarls. "Pitying me fo
Dec 02, 2007 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a mini-thesis on this book in my post modern lesbian art class in college. it was The best class Ever, and i think it may be my favorite project ever, after my high school paper on As I Lay Dying. Anyway, everyone should read this book.
Jan 13, 2012 Colleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not my cup of tea....The story is about a woman who loses her partner (another woman) and the grieving process she goes through. I just couldn't find myself relating or buying into the realtionship these two woman had.
Nov 10, 2008 Mandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A water dripping faucet silent journey from a dark place into light.
Jan 31, 2014 Clementine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This book is very complex, which I appreciate. It's not queer lit - it's about life as a closeted lesbian who's just lost her partner of thirteen years in a car accident, sure, but it's about friendship, family, and finding yourself when you're unexpectedly left alone.

I liked Pen a lot. I thought she was realistic, and had emotional depth. She was an interesting character, someone who I felt deeply for and who I could root for. She's quiet and unassuming in some ways, but very strong and feisty
Daniel Taylor
How do you handle the days following the death of your lover of 13 years, when neither your family or her father know you're a couple?

In Hood, Pen has lost Cara, the woman she's loved since high school. While Pen was always faithful to Cara, Cara had many other lovers. For Pen, Cara was all she needed; for Cara, Pen was the sun she orbited and kept returning to.

Part of the reason this relationship worked is that Pen is disturbingly passive. Her and Cara remain closeted about their relationship,
Ashley D--
Apr 25, 2013 Ashley D-- rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-content, adults
This book made me feel as desperately and inconsolably sad as I felt as a teenager about, well, basically anything and everything. Donoghue's descriptions of Pen's surroundings, her actions, and her memories were so visceral I couldn't help but feel in tandem with the character experiencing them all. It was a rough couple of days, reading this one. The only thing that shocked me out of it--and out of putting it on my books-i-love-more-than-people shelf--was the passage about red wings. I'm not s ...more
Jey Wong
Intriguing book. Normally, the premise of loss and grief is not my cup of tea, but I was moreso interested in exploring the layers of Pen and how she'd cope with her identity and moving forward in life now that her partner was no longer there. In some ways, I found myself relating to Pen, seeing bits of myself in her and thus, I think that's what captured me the most about this book. I didn't quite get behind Pen and Cara's trivial relationship. Then again, I could never be okay with being polyg ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Donoghue's Room & Slammerkin, so I was excited to read Hood. The story is a week in the life of Pen, a 30 year old woman mourning the loss of her lover, Cara. This loss & its pain is further complicated by the fact that not only did Cara have other lovers (although she and Pen share a home--with Cara's father), but also that the reality of their relationship as partners, not simply best friends since high school, is not public knowledge, therefore Pen bears her grief, essentially ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Ster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

A great insight into the lesbian culture of Dublin. A great love story.

The story deals with Pen. Who just lost her first and only love in a car crash, Cara. Cara is/was a beautiful red head Pen has known since grade school. It goes back in time and tells the story of their history, while also dealing with Pen's first week of grief with out Cara.

It is a beautiful story of love lost both through death and through most of Cara and Pen's entire on/off relationship of 14 years togeth
Penelope and Cara are a closeted lesbian couple living in Dublin in the 90s. Cara, returning from a vacation in Greece, is killed when a drunk driver hits the taxi she is taking home from the airport. The whole story is about Penelope's grief over losing Cara and her memories of the life they shared together. Super depressing as there really isn't anything about Cara that I liked. She treated Pen like garbage - always cheating on her, leaving and coming back over and over again. There is no clim ...more
Simay Yildiz
Started this without realizing what it was dealing with. Too hard to comprehend right now. Will get back to it later.
Kathryn Houghton
This is a book that just worked for me, both as a story and as a teaching device for my own writing. I've read three books by Donoghue, and all her characters are flawed, but this book seems the most effective use of imperfect characters, and what's amazing I was still drawn and could relate to them all. The structure, too, worked well, and though I thought it would bother me, the transitions in and out of the flashbacks (as literal flashbacks for Pen) felt smooth, and each one added another lay ...more
Jan 07, 2016 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Meh. The writing was mostly lovely as Donoghue generally is, but this is a very, overly-long meditation on the inanity of grief and as such it is often incredibly boring. Also there's a lot of really disgusting descriptions of sex (mileage will vary and all that, but I really didn't need the graphic descriptions of eating each others' period blood--blech) and a lot of boring housework described in minute detail and tons and tons and tons of eating, no matter how much the protagonist says she's n ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Lynnski rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I read this book as part of a challenge to read outside of my normal genres. It won the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Book Award for Literature so it fit one of the categories I needed to fill. It is the story of a young woman morning the sudden loss of her partner of the last 13 years. The story only takes place during one week, however, there are a great deal of flashbacks during that week. I thought that would make for a great love story but to me, it fell way short ...more
Colm Mac Gearailt
Nov 11, 2014 Colm Mac Gearailt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wanted to give this a four and a half out of 5 stars. Very interesting read. Narrated by Pen, the 'widowed' partner of a lesbian couple, growing up in early 1990s Ireland. Far from a time of widespread acceptance of homosexuality, this book has an added layer of elegance and pathos with the fact that the bereaved Pen's partner, Cara, had been repeatedly unfaithful and distant. How do you mourn in public a relationship that you had kept hidden for thirteen years? How do you reconcile the fact tha ...more
Apr 04, 2014 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lesbian
I'm honestly not at all sure how I feel about this one. I found myself figuratively rolling my eyes quite a bit throughout. I felt entirely detached from the main character's struggle over her girlfriend's death due to the g/f being entirely unlikable. However, it's still an emotional and powerful read, not one I'll ever repeat, but I'm happy to have made it through.
May 22, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, a book I wouldn't have picked up because I didn't much care for Donoghue's Room. And now I can't imagine not having read this book. It's a great choice for my LGBT literature class, but it's also a great selection for any literature course. The language is spectacular in this novel - influenced by Irish story telling, but also influenced by a deep level of empathy for love and loss and the need to belong. The book follows the experiences of a woman whose lover dies unexpectedly, and is or ...more
Wendy Kobylarz-Chouvarda
One day I'll write a thoughtful review; just now I don't have the time. But my thoughts: main character hard to relate to; specieism in terms of the vegetarian who decides to eat meat because she can't find a good "nut cutlet" at the dead woman's wake.

Sep 19, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Wow. I really liked this book. Seven days of one woman's life after her 13 year patner is killed suddenly. It didn't sound like a book I would love, but I do. The imagery, emotions, and writing style are wonderful and the unique way grief hits. Wow.
Aug 10, 2007 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books. I love the character studies of Pen and Cara. Although I didn't like Cara very much, I was impressed with how Emma Donoghue created such a complex character and showed how different she looked through different people's eyes.
Kathy Desroches
Dec 07, 2014 Kathy Desroches rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, I can't say that I understand Pens devotion to Clara who is often strays but I love the desciptions she has of their relationship. I also loved the message throughout the book that life can end at any time, what would we have dine differently if we knew that she would die at such a young age. I enjoyed she Clara was described as a flake by a friend, I can see this. I can also see why Clara keeps returning to pen, because pen may be the only one who really sees her. I ...more
Oct 26, 2014 DubaiReader rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, abandoned
Audiobook returned to Audible.

It is very rare that I abandon a book, even more unlikely if it's an audio-book. However, this book, written many years before Emma Donoghue's fantastic book, Room, did not live up to expectations at all. I was listening to it on a long haul flight and I found I was just not engaging with the characters at all. The narrative seemed dragged out and slow and served only to send me to sleep, which, under the circumstances, was fine.

The central relationship is between t
May 25, 2014 Layla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-fiction
Time to reevaluate Hood. I first read this in college when I was coming out, and it was my favorite book for a long time afterward. In the intervening years, I've included it without thinking on lists of my favorite books or when making recommendations to people - or whatever.

Fun fact: I recently re-read this for book club and discovered that I've been remembering the book wrong FOR YEARS.

This isn't Emma Donoghue's fault - Hood is a great book! What I correctly remembered of the novel - other t
Jan 24, 2014 Eliza rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
12/20/2013: Here it is January 24. Oops. I got derailed over Christmas, and I’m just getting back to the important work of book reviews! Of course, since much of the point of writing these reviews is to help me remember what I’ve read, and it’s now a month since I finished this book, I…um…don’t remember everything I should about Hood. So this will be short and sweet. I’ve got to catch up!

I loved Donoghue’s Room, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2010. And it’s always good to rea
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Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of ...more
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