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The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy #1)

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  1,955 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Meet Kate and Baba, two young Irish country girls who have spent their childhood together. As they leave the safety of their convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their somewhat tumultuous relationship. Kate, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love, while Baba just wants to experience the life of a single girl. Although they ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published 1986 by Penguin Books (first published 1960)
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At first, I didn't think very much of The Country Girls. It's sort of your standard coming of age story, the locus here being female and Irish and from a rural, rather down-at-hell background.

O'Brien, who admittedly wrote under the inspiration of Dubliners, said herself that the novel came almost as if unbidden. She said something to the effect that her hand wrote it, she just guided the pen. Very interesting not only to hear this, which has to indicate something really important and personal an
Paul Bryant
Sep 10, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A beautiful probably-autobiographical wee slip of a novel which reads more like a memoir about two Irish girls between the ages of 14 and 18 in which nothing much happens except ordinary poor country life stuff, the girls being bored witless and trying to grow up, the girls being righteously disgusted about what's on offer in the back of the Irish beyond in the early 50s before Elvis and rock & roll rewrote the rules, the girls putting up with drunk parents, bitter adults and useless boys. C ...more
I like Edna O'Brien's writing, lyrical is the perfect word to describe it. Good dialogs. Her characters become distinct.

The plot left me cold. Totally boring. Not only do you need good writing you need an interesting story for a novel to work. We follow two girls, Caithleen and Baba, 14 years of age when the book opens. Two country girls, as the title so aptly indicates. The setting is western Ireland, outside Limerick, the 1960s. This is a coming of age story, about friendship and blossoming i
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 05, 2011 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 (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, series
First published in 1960, this is the first novel of Ireland-born novelist Edna O'Brien (born 1930). This is also Book 1 of her trilogy called the same, The Country Girls Trilogy. The other books are entitled The Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). After the publication of the third book, all of them were banned in the repressive Ireland in the 60's because of the frank portrayal of the sex lives of the characters. Well, there is nothing frank in the first book except that ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Hugo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
O romance de estreia de Edna O'Brien, banido nos anos 60, conta a história de duas amigas de uma zona rural da Irlanda, Baba é tresloucada e Caithleen demasiado influenciável e inocente. Acompanhamos as raparigas na sua passagem pela escola de um convento e, mais tarde, a sua mudança para a auspiciosa cidade de Dublin. Acredito que este livro tenha muito de autobiográfico, li algures que a autora também foi educada num convento, onde se apaixonou por uma freira. Mesmo tendo em conta a grande inf ...more
Vanessa Wu
Aug 22, 2011 Vanessa Wu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been listening to Edna O'Brien read the unabridged version of this novel. It is quite short. She reads it in a state of holy awe, as if she is filled with wonder at the world. This very much suits the narrative, which tells of the unholy dramas that befall a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl in a little Irish town. It is told in unadorned, elegant English. There is a purity about it, which means you have to quieten your mind and let Edna's voice fill up your senses in order to appreciate it ...more
Elizabeth Quinn
For the longest time, I didn't get Edna O'Brien. Her writing was so highly praised, but I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. Her characters were all so repressed and their interactions so brittle that I found her stories difficult to get into and generally boring. But as I embarked on my ongoing Irish tear, I was determined to try again. This time I had no trouble becoming interested in Kate and her childhood friend Baba or their lives in rural Ireland, in convent school and in Dub ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Hanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love O’Brien’s writing. She writes with such vivid imagery, it is impossible not to see Ireland while you are reading it. This story is set in rural western Ireland, county Clare (or Limerick perhaps) going by places mentioned in the book, a place I spent some time in the past. In fact I was one of “these eejits who come over to the Burren to look at flowers.”

And yet, though some of the descriptions make my mind go on holiday and make me long for a walk in the Irish countryside, most of what i
Emma Flanagan
The Country Girls follows the story of Cait and Baba, from their childhood in rural County Clare and convent school to Dublin as they struggle to understand live and search for love.

Published in 1960 it was banned upon publication in Ireland for its portrayal of sex. In O’Briens home parish it was publicly burnt. In 1962 it won the Kingsley Amis Award.

The issues they face are as recognisable and relateable today as 50 yrs ago. Young girls today may know more about the biology then Cait and Baba
'Las chicas de campo' es una novelita de Edna O'Brien, que causó bastante revuelo en la Irlanda natal de la autora en el momento de su publicación, porque habla sin tapujos de cosas como el despertar de la sexualidad feminina o de relaciones de adolescentes con hombres mayores casados. Pero supongo que tampoco ayuda que haya padres borrachos y ausentes, madres presumidas y vanidosas, monjas estrictas y crueles, etc. Dicho así parece que el libro sea un melodrama bastante insufrible, pero es todo ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I really, really enjoyed reading this book. I think the most delicious aspect of it is that O’Brien marries intimate and personal details of a girl’s early teenhood in the Irish countryside with the horribly dark realities of human existence. Furthermore, O’Brien does this very subtly. She describes the girl, Kaithleen, getting out of bed in the early mornings and seeing frost on the hedgerows outside, and skimming the cream off a bucket of milk to put in a glass bottle to take to a best friend’
This is like vintage chick lit. It's adorable.

I expected something much different - something slow and cautious and maybe a bit boring - but this was surprisingly pleasant, and read surprisingly quickly. With short sentences, a supple storyline and a meagre 250 pages, it draws you in and spits you out in a couple hours.
It is slow, but it's a warm, cosy, sad kind of slowness. It's a story of nostalgia and loneliness and growing up, but it's undramatic and subdued, and even the meanness and carele
May 26, 2012 Trisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When The Country Girls (1960), The Lonely Girl (1962), and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964) were published they were promptly condemned by the Catholic Church in Ireland, and banned by the Irish Censorship Board. Most likely because of what this trilogy had to say about the truly dismal lives of girls who grew into womanhood under the shadow of a darkly repressive church and a rural culture filled with narrow-minded ignorance, mistrust and helplessness. Nevertheless, today Edna O’Brien is reg ...more
Lori Sichtermann
Jan 15, 2016 Lori Sichtermann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was once an 18-year-old, and this tender story of strained friendship and romantic realization struck a deep chord. As an adult, you want to shake the characters by the shoulders and say life will get better. But, will it? There are two more books in this trilogy... :-)
Dec 17, 2015 Emmet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-ve-loved
I heard about this book on the Guardian Books Podcast and knew right away I'd like it. Coming from an Irish author from the 50s, this book challenged society of the day in a way taken for granted today. Yet, O'Brien manages this without being vulgar or explicit at any point.

The book really captures rural Ireland, even an Ireland I can remember and have seen despite being quite so old. The back-biting nature of the small village and those in it was just so accurate as to be scary. From the girls
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is one of those literary books that I appreciate, but that never really grabbed my attention. It's so similar to my reaction to Now in November, also a book I was hoping to really like, that comparing the two is the only way I can explain it. Both are short but well-written literary books with a strong sense of place, grounded in the natural world--the Irish setting here is particularly vivid and beautifully described, both visually and culturally, and I enjoyed all the little household det ...more
Feb 04, 2008 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good read
What a sad, gorgeous book this turned out to be. It follows young Caithleen and her best friend/bitterest enemy Baba from their rural adolescence to a convent school, and then on to big, bad Dublin to make their way as young women.

Their small town is portrayed as heartbreakingly beautiful, but the people are ugly -- Caithleen's alcoholic father, the creepy inkeeper and would-be poet who pursues her, and Baba's beautiful addled mother. O'Brien is a powerful descriptor of both the physical world a
Claire Fuller
Another re-read straight after reading Girl With Green Eyes, which meant I read them in the wrong order. I didn't like this one quite as much, but still loved it.
Christina Packard
The story started slow, but then there was an interest to see where this would go. I would say Edna O'Brien is a good writer because I am so totally upset over the way one of the character acts, but that is how I should feel.
May 07, 2015 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deseando leer las continuaciones :D
Disharee Bose
Sep 29, 2015 Disharee Bose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever have one of those books that make you wonder why you’ve heard so much about them but never read? This was one of them for me. After just a few chapters I couldn’t help feeling like a “right eejit” for not having picked up this book sooner. Described as a coming of age story of two Irish girls, the book is so much more than that. Caithleen and Baba are fourteen year olds who have spent ordinary lives in the country, trying to avoid drunken fathers as much as possible and get away from the bi ...more
La strada che va in città.

È quella che percorrono - non solo fisicamente - Caithleen e Baba per evadere dalla cattolica campagna irlandese e arrivare fino a Dublino.
Caithleen, capelli ramati e occhi verdi, introversa e romantica, e la sua amicanemica Baba, taglio sbarazzino e capelli scuri, esuberante e provocatoria, figlia di un ubriacone l'una e dello stimato veterinario del paese l'altra, rappresentano le due anime irrequiete della stessa Irlanda che, agli albori degli anni Sessanta, intrappo
Aug 19, 2014 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-authors
The Country Girls sent shock waves through rural Ireland when it was published in 1960. Across the sea, London was about to enter the Swinging Sixties but in Eire, sex was seldom mentioned openly and especially not when it involved unmarried girls. Edna O’Brien’s novel about two girls who leave their convent upbringing and small village life in search of life and love in city, was castigated for daring to break the silence. O’Brien, who was living in London at the time, found her novel banned in ...more
Aug 11, 2015 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Interesting but incomplete; to be honest I spent most of the book wishing I was Kate just so I could give 'Baba' a well deserved kick in the pants rather than concentrating too hard on what I was reading. By small degrees though I was drawn into the story and I began to find Kate both interesting and engaging. I'll be reading the other books in the series which is a compliment to the skill of Edna O'Briens writing ability.

Deceptively simple, this short little work was a very easy read. It depict
The story of a friendship between two country girls as they enter adolescence in Ireland in the time period after WWII. Kate Brady and Baba Brennen are friends. Kate’s father is an alcoholic and Baba’s father is a veterinarian. Kate is poor and earns a scholarship to a Catholic school. They go together to school where there friendship is strained but then Baba wants them to get kicked out so they are expelled and leave for life in the city.

I actually enjoyed this story. It reminded me of Angela
Mar 05, 2010 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-authors
Caithleen is a bit of a wimp, brow-beaten as she is by her best friend, Baba, and under a cloud of physical and emotional terror from her alcoholic father. Her one outlet is a fantastic (as in "fantasy") relationship with an older man, a neighbour, "Mr. Gentleman". Still, O'Brien's prose is compeling, and I've started on the next volume in the trilogy.

Reading these was brought on by seeing an interview with the now 79-year-old O'Brien on Gay Byrne's programme on RTÉ; she has a new play in produ
Giulia Chevron
Dopo circa 40 pagine avrei voluto abbandonarlo, e credo di averlo finito solo per forza di inerzia, oltre che per un antipaticissimo desiderio di scrivere che non mi era piaciuto. Arrivare al finale, per altro scontatissimo, è stata una liberazione.
Non fraintendetemi: il romanzo è scritto bene, e se inquadrato all'interno del contesto socio-culturale entro il quale è germinato acquista un senso ben preciso, ma per me questo non è sufficiente. A me non è piaciuto per nulla, purtroppo.

Continua a l
Stephanie "Jedigal"
Okay, this was strange. I liked the story and characters, but again, I am apparently much more plebeian than I like to think, because this book too went right over my head. At least, whatever makes it worthy of special acclaim goes right over my head. To me, just a good story. I do note that my sense of Irish history is woefully lacking, being a plebeian American and all, so maybe if I were Irish this would seem more significant to me, as it might be a great reflection on a certain part of their ...more
Becky Sharp
Aug 23, 2015 Becky Sharp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunque el comienzo se anunciaba oscuro, finalmente me ha encantado. Una novela que podría ser de iniciación, habla todo el tiempo de dos amigas, pero en realidad creo que es más la historia de Caithleen que de Baba, después de todo es su voz la que lo cuenta. Con sus temores, sus anhelos, sus sueños rotos.
El final, aunque da pie supongo al siguiente libro, no lo veo abrupto como he leído en otras opiniones. Es el fin de la inocencia, de los sueños adolescentes, la entrada en la madurez. Es así
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Country Girls Trilogy (4 books)
  • Girl With Green Eyes
  • Girls in Their Married Bliss
  • The Country Girls Trilogy

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“But we want young men. Romance. Love and things," I said, despondently.” 1 likes
“But we want young men. Romance. Love and things,' I said, despondently.” 1 likes
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