Amongst Women
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Amongst Women

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,397 ratings  ·  111 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)
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 Amongst Women, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Amongst Women

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. DickTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonEmpire of the Sun by J.G. BallardLes Misérables by Victor HugoThe Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell
87th out of 92 books — 21 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,994)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
Roger Pettit
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...more
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
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...more
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.
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
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...more
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...more
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

May 31, 2009 John rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...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
Jun 03, 2011 Coleen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more
Before writing my own review of Amongst Women, I broke my usual habit and read a few other reviews, to help me gather my own thoughts about this spare but emotionally complex book. In a novel as subtle as McGahern's, the same words and ideas can take on multiple shades. For some, this tale of a socially isolated Irish family and the man who runs the show ultimately shakes out to be a touching story of unity and familial love. I struggle with that reading. Now, many people (including the horrific...more
4 1/2 stars
I have been starting books and not finishing them at an alarming rate. I have owned this book for years and am so glad I picked it up. A wonderfully written story of a family in Ireland- the women are Moran's second wife and his three grown daughters. He is a retired veteran who is at times both loving to his family but also impossible to please and very hard on them. A great book.
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I absolutely hated this book. In fact, I only got 2/3 of the way through it. There is no way in hell I could finish. At one point, somewhere around page 50, I was on the verge of tears, that's how unhappy and bored I was with the book. Never been so sad in my entire life.
Setting out on this book I had few expectations to like it, and the seemingly stock characters and setting - yes, rural families and overbearing patriarchs and long suffering women - may make other readers as well quail. Look past these signs and brace for impact, however; there's a reason this book was a household name in Ireland for a time, and it has much to do with the keenly drawn and ambitiously full characteristics of the family unit itself, and if this is an act of fetishism it is one mu...more
I read this book for an Irish literature course.

I commend McGahern for making me passionate about this book - passionately angry. The characters were so infuriating. All of them. Luke was perhaps the least infuriating but he still got on my nerves a bit (view spoiler). I understand that sometimes there is just too much negativity between people for the relationship to ever be mended but sti...more
This is the story of a fierce old patriarch in Ireland who tries to keep his family together only to polarize the women in his household by his fear that they will leave. Told with gentle irony and sharp insight into human nature.
Dark and fantastic. You can practically smell the rain on the Irish countryside.
Daniela Murphy
Anyone with an Irish father should read this book.
I am currently reading All Will be Well by the same author and was reminded of this novel which I read some several years ago. Amongst Women was a painful book to read then because of my relationship with my own Irish father who has since passed away. In retrospect, though, the author is somewhat more sympathetic to his fictional character than to his autobiographical one. The two are isolated and isolating, but you can understand the frustration of the protagonist in Amongst Women. Still, I hav...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Something Old, So...: April 2014 - Amongst Women by John McGahern 3 1 Apr 18, 2014 04:46PM  
  • Reading in the Dark
  • The Last September
  • Grace Notes
  • A Long Long Way
  • Good Behaviour
  • The Book of Evidence (The Freddie Montgomery Trilogy, #1)
  • The Butcher Boy
  • The Year of the French
  • The Blackwater Lightship
  • Fools of Fortune
  • The Land of Spices
  • Famine
  • Strumpet City
  • Girl With Green Eyes
  • Great Granny Webster
  • Clayhanger
  • Novel on Yellow Paper (Revived Modern Classic)
  • Remembering Babylon
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
More about John McGahern...
That They May Face The Rising Sun The Dark All Will Be Well: A Memoir The Barracks The Pornographer

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…