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Amongst Women

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  2,131 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
Moran is an old Republican whose life was forever transformed by his days of glory as a guerilla leader in the War of Independence. Now, in old age, living in the country, Moran is still fighting - with his family, his friends, even himself - in a poignant struggle to come to terms with the past.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published May 7th 1991 by Faber and Faber (first published 1990)
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Paul Bryant
Jan 11, 2016 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Did you read any great novels recently about a thoroughly decent man? A guy who wasn’t violent and treated everyone with humanity and tried to look on the bright side? No, me neither. That is why Ulysses is so great. Leopold Bloom is that guy, always trying the cheer up his fellow struggler, always looking on the bright side.

This is another – another – story about a patriarch and how his family must dance around him on hot coals fearing the wrath and looking lively whenever he bestoweth his gla
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 30, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
I thought that this was written superbly neat.

Really, this is a good polished book. A character study of an aging father (okay, like me). Then the women (thus, the title and of course with Ireland in the 60's as a setting, the man prays the rosary) around him. Michael Moran served as a guerrilla in an Ireland War of Independence and he is proud of it. Now that this glory days are gone, he is left in his old house with his second wife and his three daughters visit him occasionally. His two sons a
The central character of this story is central in the way a cloud is central to a storm. Michael Moran, father of five and widower remarried, draws people into familial connection through a dark and dangerous and magnetic moodiness. His daughters, and even perhaps his far away sons, have become trained to believe that this feeling of separateness and isolation that comes from being a part of a deeply dysfunctional family is actually a form of superiority. Moran's youngest son Michael has escaped ...more
Jun 06, 2016 Anuradha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really busy, you guys! I'll review both this and Blindness by tomorrow, or latest by the day after, I promise!
Jan 02, 2015 Allan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't come across this book until I received it as a gift from a Goodreads friend, but I found it both a poignant and powerful read.

Set in rural Ireland over a lengthy period in the mid 20th century, it tells the story of the family of Moran, a man who fought in the War of Independence as the head of a flying column, but was left behind by the bureaucrats once the struggle was won, and who now farms in the west of Ireland.

From the earliest point in the narrative, we see that Moran's relations
A short book, but claustrophobic in its persistent domestic dysfunction, its unrelentingly dissatisfied central character, its unsympathetic disdain for chapter breaks. Irish Catholic patriarchs are a breed apart, but a specific breed nonetheless -- my childhood best friend's father was the living manifestation of Moran, at sea in a household of mostly women, who turned to him for direction and a sense of purpose, needing him to feel necessary and connected while at the same time resenting it. M ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amongst Women by John McGahern is an excellent look at a family’s life in rural Ireland in the 1960s. McGahern writes a quiet sort of novel and yet he address a number of important themes.

Moran is an old Republican whose life was forever transformed by his days of glory as a guerrilla leader in the War of Independence. Now in old age, living out in the country, Moran is still fighting but this time with his family, his friends and even himself.

I find John McGahern’s sense of time and place exce
Кремена Михайлова
Харесва ми да съм в ирландски семейства, колкото и да не приличат на българските семейства, колкото и да са смразяващи отношенията понякога. Разбира се като се замисля повече, предпочитам да ги наблюдавам отстрани, през книгите, не реално да съм член от тях…

Още в началото на този роман започнах да се питам: докога ще се налага на мъжете да са най-често в черупки? Постепенно с изравняването на половете ще се стигне ли и до по-еднаква емоционалност, способност за изразяване, не за задържане… Или н
Nov 02, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really top notch. I only say underrated (McGahern has won several noteworthy prizes) just because I hadn't heard of him and didn't think he'd gotten the recognition he deserves this side of the pond.

The writing is beautiful- humane, poised, distant, appraising, tender, complexly simple, Chekovian, minutely realized, lucid, almost translucent in its knowingness, and the characters are drawn as near to life as you can get. They have inwardness- McGahern shows, he doesn't tell, and you see them as
Vit Babenco
Dec 17, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Many of them who had pensions and medals and jobs later couldn’t tell one end of a gun from the other. Many of the men who had actually fought got nothing. An early grave or the emigrant ship. Sometimes I get sick when I see what I fought for.”
So it goes, some men provide the victory and the others use the fruits of the victory…
The embittered father of the family is a despot and he tries to rule his children with the iron fist, he wants his sons to follow in his footsteps but they run away from
James Barker
This is a wonderfully written account of a family that lives a brittle, tense existence due to a father who feels marginalised, bitter, an outsider. The way his unpredictable moodiness (which seems almost bi-polar) infects the house, stressing the women (his wife, daughters) and breaking his relationships with his sons, treads the same ground that John McGahern's The Dark did with such aplomb- in fact I think The Dark is a better book, although there is very little in it.

I particularly liked the
Roger Pettit
Feb 23, 2012 Roger Pettit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ireland has produced many fine novelists - William Trevor, Brian Moore, Colm Toibin, John Banville, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Binchy and John Boyne, to name just some. And here is another (hitherto unknown to me) to add to the list: John McGahern. McGahern died in 2006, having produced 6 novels and 4 short story collections. On the evidence of this gem of a book, it is a great shame that he did not write more.

Amongst Women is an excellent novel. It is a sort of Tennessee Williams play, transport
Jun 14, 2007 Trin rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, irish-lit
My Irish Literature tutor at Trinity College (a.k.a., Hot Scottish Tutor Peter Mackay, who hopefully is not reading this) said that this book would have made a better short story than it does a novel. While I enjoyed McGahern's simple, unflashy prose, I'm inclined to agree. The story covers the same ground again and again, and while the monotony of Moran's life may be part of the point, it doesn't make for the most enjoyable read.
Sep 11, 2013 Dylan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A narratively straightforward story about family and understanding guided by emotion.

Boring? I don't think so. What I like about this book is that I'm able to think back to moments within and fail to see any relevancy toward a specific arched plot. It is much like one would look back on their own life and just see events for what they were: experiences that just happened and solidified who you were, are, and will be into the future. The tragedy, if there is one, is that life moves on and the si
May 31, 2009 John rated it liked it
Recommended to John by: Dennis Okada
Shelves: bookcrossing
The book is well written but a little boring. Not too much happens and what does happen is fairly repetitive. Probably close to real life. At times Moran was hard to like. He was definitely head of the house. to the point where his children all left home as soon as possible. To his credit they did keep coming back.

The blurb on the back of the book about being a guerrilla leader and coming to terms with the past is a bit of a red herring. It is barely mentioned. I hate it when the synopsis on the
Feb 24, 2014 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Подведена от заглавието, се зачудих до колко ще успее един писател – мъж да напише роман, описващ жени. Оказа се, че историята не е за жените, а за мъжа, живеещ сред тях. За неговите настроения, тревоги, минало, отношението му към семейството, религията, останалия свят.
Да си призная, не разбрах Моран. Но и не ми беше толкова интересен – поредният силен мъж, поставящ добродетели като гордост и чест пред искреност, топлота, споделяне. Мога само да предполагам, че това е част от Ирландската социалн
Aug 23, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many significant Irish novels published during the 80s and 90s (I think, in particular, of Colm Toibin's wonderful The Heather Blazing) seem to feature characters and plots that struggle to reconcile the revolutionary ideals of the early twentieth century with the soullessness and disenchantments of some aspects of the new state that finally came into being. McGahern's memorable patriarch and former IRA man, Moran, is emblematic of such characters. Although rarely likable, Moran is nevertheless ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Stijn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a gift from an Irish friend some years ago. I only picked it up two weeks ago and started reading it: I shouldn't have waited that long, this is a great book.

It's not an 'easy' story though: a former Irish war hero, Moran, lives in the Irish countryside with his four teenage children (one boy and three girls, the oldest son Luke moved away to London after a personal conflict with his father) and Rose, his second wife. We follow the life of the family: how Moran lives alone with the
Oct 31, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-weight
A gritty and realistic look at a man reflecting on his past and dealing poorly with the present. The author really focuses on the immediate family and rarely does a scene take place outside of the man's home or town. I appreciated the small scope that the author took. It lent to the book's gravity and didn't allow the reader to be at ease at any moment, therefore forcing the reader to feel what his family member's were feeling. The rarest of lighthearted moments gave you a false sense of securit ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Rosemary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
A little gem of a character study of an Irish family, dominated by the father, Michael Moran, who is known to his grown children and his second wife as "Daddy". His daughters and wife are at once adoring and afraid of him; his sons are less impressed.

Moran has a very strong sense of his own importance that stems partly from inheritance and partly from his own past glory in the Irish War of Independence. However, there's very little about the war. The story begins 25-30 years later.

It's a decept
Jun 03, 2011 Coleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Coleen by: NPR
Shelves: 2011
I learned about John Macgahern through an article by Colm Toibin on NPR. Colm Toibin said of Amongst Women " It is the sort of book which you can give anyone of any age and know that they will be changed by it." Although it's a tough book to read in that there are no chapters and long paragraphs it is an excellent book. Michael Moran is an ex IRA fighter who is the dictator of his own world. He in turn charms and terrorizes his family and as harsh as that sounds I found myself admiring him in so ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Kristel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amongst Women (1990), Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literary Award (1991), GPA Award (1992), nominated for the Booker Prize (1990).
Moran is the father of three daughters and two children. He is an embittered Irish Republican soldier. Moran marries Rose, his second wife. Everyone lives their lives in step with Moran's moods which change quickly without warning. Everyone except the one son who leaves before the story begins.

I enjoyed this novel very much. I think the author's best achievement was to des
Богиня Книдска
Mar 26, 2016 Богиня Книдска rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Изключително реалистична творба, без да е изпълнена с излишен драматизъм. От история за ирландско семейство очакваш поне малко кръв, сополи и кютек. Последното, признавам, присъстваше.

Централният персонаж - Моран, е описан с явното желание на автора да събуди у читателя респект, уважение и страхопочитание към славното минало и традиции. В крайна сметка той се е получил наистина крайно реалистичен и жизнен дотолкова, че буди желание да го цапнеш здраво с лопатата, белким му спестиш мъките /на нег
Jan 15, 2010 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A simply wtitten simply beatutiful book about an Irish family complete with the testy, unpredictable and pride-driven moods of the (in my opinion) typical irish father. Lovely descriptions a la Thomas Hardy of farm life, but with the complications of family and fathers/sons/daughters which seem particularly Irish. A lovely little book.
Aug 15, 2013 NeDa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Много ирландска и много хубава! Пренесох се в тяхната Голяма лъка и все едно бях там, със семейството на Моран, за неотменимите молитви и чая, сред ливадите и на брега на морето ... Впечатли ме абсолютно плавния и неусетен преход, между дни и години, без да има никакво разделение на глави в книгата.
Teresa Mills-clark
Recently, we were in Ireland and discovered a wonderful independent book store and given the story telling prowess of the Irish I felt compelled to buy from different authors. And, did you know, when I got home, I discovered a friend had previously given me the very same book to read! Go figure.

I had a greater appreciation for the context of the book having toured various places which dealt with the 1916 Rebellion and subsequent movements towards Independence. I could "hear" the characters spea
Apr 22, 2013 Róisín rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-literature
I had to read this years ago for my Leaving Cert but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is set in the rural midlands of Ireland in the 50s and centers around Michael Moran, the embittered patriarch of the Moran family. He is a former IRA member and fought in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil war in the 1920s who thinks that the war was the best part of his life. Although he can be tender towards his family he is angry, stubborn and strong-willed, he dominates the lives of his wife and children
Oct 02, 2012 Lhart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grouchy controlling old man who spends more time worrying about what others think than the wellbeing of his family. Very dark book but well written and hard to put down. Amongst WomenAmongst Women by John McGahern

Grouchy controlling old man who spends more time worrying about what others think than the wellbeing of his family. Very dark book but well written and hard to put down.

View all my reviews

Kathryn Watt
Aug 11, 2015 Kathryn Watt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After continually seeing this book on "Best Irish Novels" lists I thought I would give it a go. From the blurb, I thought it would be a deep exploration of the subjectivity of the central characters (Virginia Woolf style). How wrong I was. It barely scratches the surface of the characters' inner lives and is largely a book that re-enacts the same scenario over and over: women tiptoeing around the central male figure to appease him with varying degrees of success. Boring. Oh, and then he dies. I ...more
This is my idea of a good, solid novel. No fancy plot tricks, just complicated characters dealing with life's changes. The father, Moran, works his farm with the help of three soon-to-be-adult daughters and a younger son. A older son lives in London and refuses contact with his father. Moran's wife is dead. At the beginning of the book he marries a younger woman and brings her home. Moran sets high moral standards for all and has a volatile temper that all fear. Yet they manage to respect and lo ...more
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All About Books: Week 97 - Amongst Women by John McGahern 10 19 Jul 28, 2015 03:58AM  
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McGahern began his career as a schoolteacher at Scoil Eoin Báiste (Belgrove) primary school in Clontarf, Ireland, where, for a period, he taught the eminent academic Declan Kiberd before turning to writing full-time. McGahern's second novel 'The Dark' was banned in Ireland for its alleged pornographic content and implied clerical sexual abuse. In the controversy over this he was forced to resign h ...more
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“For the girls the regular comings and goings restored their superior sense of self, a superiority they had received intact from Moran and which was little acknowledged by the wide world in which they had to work and live. That unexplained notion of superiority was often badly shaken and in need of restoration by the time they came home.” 4 likes
“To leave the everpresent tension of Great Meadow was like shedding stiff, formal clothes or kicking off pinching shoes.” 3 likes
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