Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  985 ratings  ·  104 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...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published June 27th 1996 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1995)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,397)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I read Hood ages ago, but was reminded of it when I found out that Emma Donoghue had been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize for her new novel Room (woo hoo!). The story takes place immediately after closeted Catholic boarding school teacher Pen O'Grady's long-term partner Cara Wall is killed in a car accident. As Pen struggles through the first week, a complex portrait of her youth and her relationship with Cara emerges out of a storm of memories and funereal obligations.

The book moves very...more
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
Elaine Burnes
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
May 23, 2008 Jill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
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.
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.
A water dripping faucet silent journey from a dark place into light.
Daniel G.
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,...more
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
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

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...more
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
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...more
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.
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...more
Written by the author of Room and Slammerkin, Hood is a moving story of love and loss. Taking place during the week of Cara Wall’s funeral, the reader finds themselves at the mercy of Pen O’Grady’s, Cara’s lover of 13 years, sometimes tumultuous, most of the time lacking emotions. Using flashbacks and the days of the week, Donoghue tells the story of Pen and Cara’s relationship while showing Pen’s coping (or lack thereof) with Cara’s death.

The novel takes place in Ireland during the late 1990s,...more
Paul Long
I didn’t realize this book was written more than 15 years ago until I had finished it.
I had thought it was a new release. The cover told me it was a novel by the author of Room, a book published in 2010, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a trade paperback edition, which seemed new. But after I finished it, something in the author’s note and the questions and answers in the back of the book made me look at the publication date.
It was 1995.
Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, which like so man...more
This book is hard to rate. It was pretty much a complete downer as it is, above all else, a story about losing a loved one. Yet, somewhere near the end I found myself caring for Pen, the protagonist, which was surprising since for most of the book I just wanted to shake her so she'd stop being such a darn wimp. We are taken along with her through her stages of grief within a span of a week after Cara, her on & off partner for the last 13 years, dies suddenly. We're also taken through their r...more
After reading Room by the same author, I expected a great novel. In the author's defense, Room was written about 15 years later than this novel, so she's had the chance to grow a lot - and she definitely has. Hood doesn't have much of a plot, but I can live with that. My problem is that Donoghue doesn't dig deep enough into Pen's psyche to keep this novel interesting. Pen isn't interesting enough to devote 360 pages to her perspective - especially since you don't get any insight as to who she re...more
Lauren Licitra
I wanted to read earlier work by Donoghue after reading Room. You can see the beginning of the style she used in Room in this novel. It is not any easy read. Stream of consciousness rambling, from flashback to current, on top of the Irish dialects and references, got a bit tedious. However, the portion I did really like was the dealing with grief as a gay partner in a closeted life. She does a good job caputuring the difficulties surrounding this, and the people who actually are there for suppor...more
Niya B
Some may find this sad, but I rather enjoyed the text. The character sketches are neatly done, with enough information to keep things interesting without leaving the reader overwhelmed with useless details. There are points at which anyone who has lived through a loss can empathize and others that may seem revelatory. That said,I wish there had been a stronger connection to red riding hood, beyond the gabardine.
A week in the life of a semi-closeted lesbian whose partner is killed in a car accident. From all accounts Cara, the dead woman, was flighty and just not a nice person. She cheated constantly, with both women and men. Pen, the one left behind, seems like a very nice woman but kind of a doormat. Her life revolved around her job (as a teacher), Cara and waiting for Cara to return . . . until she didn't.
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.
Perhaps I liked this book because it gave me a glimpse into a Dublin I was too young to know but bares a resemblance to the one I grew up in.

I've been living away from Ireland for a few years and I found myself meandering down its streets and conversing with its people while reading this. That in itself was deserving of a 3. The reason it gets a 4 is because its beautifully written. It talks about the loss a love in a way so rarely seen of a romance story. I often found myself wondering why exac...more
Laura Conrad
Well-written. I found the characters a bit uninteresting. I read it because I really liked Room. This is an early work and not as good, but still worth reading. Set in Dublin, about Catholic schools, lesbian sex, funerals, and mourning.
I felt that this book could have been a short story. It is an interesting exploration of grief, but not much happens. The main character was quite annoying to me after awhile, which made it difficult to engage in the story.
Glorious and moving and sad and I'm not over it
"When Pen O'Grady moved in with the Walls four years ago, she was sure that she and her long time on-and-off lover Cara Wall would remain together, sharing discussions until they are old and weak . That was her vision until one Sunday morning when she receives a phone call from a hospital informing her that Cara has passed away from a car accident. Suddenly, Pen is alone and left with responsibilities and concerns like that of a widow's though practically...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 79 80 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Blue Place (Aud Torvingen, # 1)
  • A Seahorse Year
  • Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking
  • Empathy
  • The Slow Fix
  • Patience & Sarah
  • Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir
  • The Creamsickle
  • Boys Like Her: Transfictions
  • The World Unseen
  • Like: A Novel
  • Valencia
  • Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties
  • Babyji
  • The Complete Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist
  • Cool for You
  • The Wives of Bath
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
More about Emma Donoghue...
Room Slammerkin Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins Astray The Sealed Letter

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »