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

August Is a Wicked Month

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  436 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Separated from her husband, Ellen finds herself living alone in a city she dislikes - a place that denies her past and offers no hope for her future. Determined to change her life, she decides to go south in search of sun and companionship.
Paperback, 169 pages
Published 1983 by Penguin Books (first published 1965)
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)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 25, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to experience catholic guilt. but not men -you should stay away from this book
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I picked this up thinking, ooh a nice summery read, something on the 1001 books list and possible some guilt-free, liberated and escapist, pseudo-feminist sex frolics (somewhere in a middle ground that is neither the weird dirty old man kinkiness of Michel Houllebecq and isn't Jilly Cooper either) . Ha ha. Wrong. But first to address what is possibly the funniest and most patronising review I've ever read on the back of a book. I give you... Mr Gavin Ewart of the Evening Standard...

"This is a te
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 29, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008)
Don't be misled by the sexy photo on the cover of the book. Although this book is about a lonely 28-y/o housewife, Ellen, she is not really your sex-starved character who sleeps with men from one bed to another. This book was Edna O'Brien's (born 1930) follow up to the controversial and banned first novel, The Country Girls Trilogy. The trilogy was banned in Ireland because of its broke the silence on sexual matters and social issues during the repressive period in Ireland history after World Wa ...more
Apr 13, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love that publishers are bringing back these vintage titles. This one was originally published in 1965. That’s not to say the story is dated. It’s about a young Irish woman with an eight year old son who’s been separated from her husband for a year. She’s also gone without sex for at least that long and she’s missing it. When her husband takes their son on a camping trip she bounces around her house for a bit, has a desultory sexual encounter with a conflicted neighbor, and then decides to go ...more
Anita Pomerantz
Jan 30, 2015 Anita Pomerantz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
More of a novella, O'Brien does a tremendous job of bringing us inside the mind of a woman, Ellen, who is hurting and insecure after a divorce. In an effort to forget, Ellen takes a holiday in France, and basically behaves in a way that ends up reinforcing her sadness and depression. I loved the way this book was written. O'Brien really takes you inside Ellen's mind the entire time, and it is hard not to empathize with her feelings and situation and her deep deep loneliness. You feel like you ar ...more
A. Mary
Mar 17, 2012 A. Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-novels
There's no one like Edna O'Brien to burst the fantasy bubble of the fairy tale romance. People who fall in love stagger out the other side stunned gutted disillusioned awakened. O'Brien's skills are consistent from book to book, and the story isn't sensationally told. This novel might be made into an independent movie, but it could never be a mainstream Hollywood film with Julia Roberts. She wouldn't touch it with a stick. O'Brien's protagonist is a young, divorced, mother, who decides to go on ...more
Jun 02, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes life can be lonely and isolating. Sometimes you feel the loneliest in a group of people.
I am still thinking about this book and the progression of events. I am impressed with how well Edna O'Brien conveys emotional peaks and valleys, how she can expose the depths of loneliness, sadness and grief.

Rather than spend a lonely summer in London, Ellen decides to take herself on a lovely vacation to the French Riviera only to walk into a comedy of errors. After being brought as low as possi
This must have been audacious stuff back in 1965, with its frank depiction of feminine carnality, but today it seems dated. Holidaying in France and eating an artichoke is no longer the height of decadence - and please, please do not describe a penis as resembling 'a foxglove in a secret glade'.
Jun 13, 2010 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-authors
This was terrific. A new voice, not the same Kate of The Country Girls trilogy, a slightly older but much more mature woman. Ellen Sage is, like Kate, the divorced mother of a young son. Her estranged husband and child go on a camping holiday to Wales and rather than sit around stuffy London, Ellen books a flight to the Côte d'Azure, looking for sex—pure and simple. But as Oscar Wilde said of truth, it is rarely pure and never simple. After a number of false starts with hotel staff, Ellen falls ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, 1001-books, france
Ellen, like so many other women, is dissatisfied with her life. She has left her husband, taking their son with her. When he comes to take the boy on holiday, she makes her own to the south of France, spending her days in a haze of decadance and forgetfulness.
If you are looking for a book with a lot of plot, then you best skip this book. It is an homage to internal thought and introspection, reminding me in many ways of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, and Sylvi
May 02, 2012 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I'd actually give this something like 3 1/2 stars, I bumped it up to 4 because even lesser O'Brien beats so much of what I've read lately - and this book is nearly as old as I am. A short novel, it is nevertheless jam-packed with the O'Brien's trademark haunting prose - in her best works (House of Splendid Isolation, In the Forest), her trance-like writing is both comforting and harrowing - often at the very same time. August... is a quiet glimpse into the life of a woman who is starved fo ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Kokeshi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-k
Edna O’Brien’s writing rocked Ireland in the 1960s. So much so that her publications were banned there and in some cases burnt due to their honest portrayals of the sex lives of their characters. O’Brien’s works often revolve involve the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men and to society as a whole.

If you read her novel August is a Wicked Month with this information in mind you can really gain an appreciation for her efforts. For me, the main character Ellen was deplor
Beth Bonini
I just scrolled through a long list of tags to describe this book and rejected every one. It's not quite historical - although it's that more than contemporary. Set in the 1960s, it was probably considered quite 'modern' at the time. It feels dated to me without feeling wholly of the past. The main character, a 28 year old mother (and former nurse) - separated from her husband - goes on a holiday in France, by herself, for the purpose of having a sexual adventure. It's not really about her marri ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
August is a wicked month because when Ellen's son went on a camping trip with his father [Ellen's estranged husband who hated her:] Ellen was so lonely, as she has been lonely since her marriage broke up, that she had sex with a married man who has a mistress he couldn't leave and who didn't call her anymore after they've had sex during their third meeting, so Ellen, on a whim went to a holiday in France hoping to find love and sex there, as she was just 28, but all she found there was frustrati ...more
What a strange and fascinating little novel. O'Brien describes certain emotions and sensations in a way that is jarringly blunt, but still genuine and familiar. Ellen, the protagonist, is both naive and sensual, and her desperation for physical and emotional fulfillment leads her to make decisions that, as a reader, made me cringe. The contrast between the raw honesty of the prose and the incomprehensibility of so many of Ellen's decisions has the effect of pulling the reader into the narrative, ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lushly written voyage of self discovery! INTO A SWAMP OF CATHOLIC GUILT. I guess in the early 1960s a nice irish lady couldn't buy a plane ticket and some scandalous trousers and head to France for anonymous holiday sex without a Severe God Smiting. Make a note of it, sluts who like carmine polish on your toes. Make a note of it and keep those knees together lest your sin kill your kid and net you a nice case of trichomoniasis.

Travelling Sunny
Single mom just wants to be loved. Maybe it will be her ex-husband. Maybe it will be Hugh, the friend with benefits. Maybe it will be Leonard or Jason or the violinist or the bellboy. Maybe it will be Bobby, Mr. Possibly Right.

Maybe it will be just a yeast infection and not gonorrhea.
Apr 19, 2011 Monica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Lauri
Shelves: wish-list, priority
Looks too good to miss...
May 29, 2013 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Got the new autobiography, but had never read anything by her, so gave this a try first. DARK! And attitudes of its time. But well written and compulsively readable!
Feb 22, 2010 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angela by: San Francisco Panorama book review
Shelves: irish
We meet Ellen as her recently-turned-ex husband and son are going away on a camping trip in Wales. Coming off getting dumped from an affair gone nowhere and facing weeks of loneliness, Ellen books a trip to the French Riviera and goes shopping for the kind of scandalous clothes that will advertise her licentious openness to new experiences: trousers! We've got a case of full-on Irish Catholic repression here, ca 1965, dawn of the sexual revolution.

And really one of the most fascinating things a
Sandra Lawson
Jun 12, 2011 Sandra Lawson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read anything by Edna O'Brien for a long time, but still have fond memories of the Country Girls trilogy.

August is a Wicked Month was written in 1965 and may seem rather dated now. Ellen has left behind her life in Ireland (repression, Catholicism and Magdalen Laundries) and now lives in 'Swinging London'. With no commitment forthcoming from her latest lover, she books her first visit to the South of France and yearns 'to be free and young and naked with all the men in the world makin
The novel, written in 1965, depicts the life of a young woman who has left her husband. Ellen is 28, has a seven year old son, works at a job that must pay reasonably well for the time (1965). Her son leaves with his father for a camping/fishing outing and in her boredom, Ellen has a one night fling and then leaves for beaches of France for a vacation.

The book reads fast, the story was engaging enough to hold me but simply did not like Ellen. She is very flawed. 1001 description of Ellen, " jus
R A Lynch
Jul 15, 2012 R A Lynch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O'Brien presents the disappointment, grief, guilt, isolation and hope and despair of a woman stuck in a cycle she cannot escape whether she leaves her home, the country or her own body. Ellen is a woman living in the sixties, a new permissive society, where sexual experimentation leads to everything from pornographic photos being taken of her to being used as a non-chemical Viagra to sexually transmitted disease. Is this exploitation if she colludes?

A fish out of water, not just in being Irish
Aug 02, 2016 Pip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Edna O'Brien. She gets inside a female mind like few other writers. Even if I haven't exactly run away to the South of France, nor got caught up with a Hollywood star, I have sought solace on a summer holiday and been propositioned by characters who turn out to be less than savoury and so often when reading O'Brien I feel I have experienced similar situations. She has the ability to write about women's lives with skill and precision and at the same time her books are so readable. Her hero ...more
Stef Smulders
What to make of this novel? It's weird. Fairly good at times, weird and difficult to believe in other parts. It seems somewhat outdated, sixties' preoccupations are prominent in the development of the story. Preoccupations that are quite different from those of today. A major flwa is that the background of Ellen is only touched upon which makes it hard to understand her motives. All in all this novel has some serious flaws.
Feb 16, 2011 Janet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I really loved the Girl with the Green Eyes. This one was well put together and I ended up stopping reading it. Not because it was bad quite the opposite it was having a very strong effect on me emotionally and depressing me. It was all the men hitting on her continually that made me depressed and I felt I couldn't carry on with it. I still maintain that she is a great author.
Mar 01, 2014 Tressa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I liked August is a Wicked Month. I thought Ellen was lonely, restless, lost, and seeking something. In fact, all the characters she fully interacted with had the same issues. I felt that perhaps life hadn’t fulfilled its promises to them…but life is what you make of it. I hope that they all—especially Ellen—finds happiness, solace, and succor.
Jun 21, 2014 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this on my Kobo. The tablet reading experience is still not as satisfying as reading a book, but Edna O'Brien is some writer. I think I read to experience lives that are different than my own. During this August "vacation" Ellen experiences events that I hope never to match. Even her sunburns made me uncomfortable.
Jul 26, 2011 Kingfan30 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
not sure what to make of this book, I found it a quick read but could not relate to Ellen at all. It all seem very detached and the reaction to the news just plain odd. Someone mentioned that she did not ask for proof when receiving news from her ex - good point, especially as he disappears!
Michelle (tinyturtle88)
I found this book to be nonsensically written. Zero plot. No connection to character. Good thing it was a very short read, otherwise I don't think I could've finished it. This writing style is just not for me.
Jan 13, 2015 Cherie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A woman watches her ex-husband and son go on vacation, and decides to do something for herself. She seems like a bit of a lost soul. She takes a spontaneous vacation to French beaches, and ends up in a whirlwind of regret, mistakes, and insanity.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • A World of Love
  • The Talk Of The Town
  • Fools of Fortune
  • How it Is
  • The Bitter Glass
  • Shroud
  • The Real Charlotte
  • After the Death of Don Juan
  • The Trusting and the Maimed
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • The Charwoman's Daughter
  • Ormond
  • Albigenses
Edna O’Brien (b. 1930), an award-winning Irish author of novels, plays, and short stories, has been hailed as one of the greatest chroniclers of the female experience in the twentieth century. She is the 2011 recipient of the Frank O’Connor Prize, awarded for her short story collection Saints and Sinners. She has also received, among other honors, the Irish PEN Award for Literature, the Ulysses Me ...more
More about Edna O'Brien...

Share This Book