The Country Girls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy #1)

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  910 ratings  ·  92 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
Published November 30th 1975 by Penguin Books (first published 1960)
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 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sep 10, 2011 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 05, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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

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...more
Laura Macdonald
Edna O Brian has led a fascinating life and was quite the woman. Well 'is' quite the woman as she is still with us. What did I like about this book? The charm, the beautiful prose, the stories of her childhood, the early years of her marriage and the obvious pride and love she has for her children. So why didn't I rate it higher? Well, I would have. If the book had continued in the same vein as the early chapters, I would have given it 5 stars, but it develops into continuous name dropping, some...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
Sinead Fitzgibbon
Fascinating read. Provides insight into the complex, febrile mind of the author. While there was much too much name-dropping throughout, the book was very moving in places, especially when one realises the author has spent her whole life searching for the great love of her life. And at 82 years of age, she searches still.
Ah, I made the decision last night to finally give up on this book. I tried and tried and tried to like it. I really did. I am not sure why it was such a difficult slog for me; I should have easily finished this thing over the weekend and just couldn't make any headway in it. No doubt my failing more than Edna's, but nonetheless I am calling it done with a hundred pages left.
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...more
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...more
Vanessa Wu
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
Hugh Mccusker
Wonderful lyricism as expected from Edna but a bit self-indulgent. Yes, yes I know it's a memoir, but less name-dropping and more tortured artist please.
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

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’...more
Edna O'Brien's "Country Girls" trilogy were definitive books devoured in my far distant youth. Very racy and dogged by controversy at the time, especially in Ireland. They spoke to me at a time of confusion - a Uni student who struggled with pursuing studies or marrying young.
Consequently, I looked forward to this auto bio.
It is a curious book. The wonderful, lucid, descriptive writing style is there but emotionally, it feels most detached - just like an old woman viewing her life at a distanc...more
I loved the section in Ireland, her childhood right up to her marriage and when she leaves her husband and finally gains custody of her two boys (the first half of the book). Then the memoir loses some of its richness...gets caught up in social circles, brief stories. There are again moments of beauty and richness but...never in the same way. This is a memoir by a very private person, so...that shows.
Andrew Donaldson
Her prose is beautiful, and her story quite amazing.
I picked this book up because of the many rapturous reviews, not because I knew anything about O'Brien herself. Indeed, I'm shamed to admit I'd never heard of her. Nor am I particularly drawn to memoirs (I don't remember the last one I read). But whatever impulse pushed me to pick up this book did not lead me astray. O'Brien does not even really attempt to present a linear description of her life; rather, it's a rather impressionistic pastiche of various experiences and thoughts. The writing is...more
Kathleen Jones
I was lucky enough to be sitting near to Edna O'Brien in the Green Room at a recent literature festival and she was holding the whole room spellbound with an anecdote about Philip Roth. She's a natural raconteur - the gift of the Irish, some would say.

I've always loved her writing - her first book The Country Girls was part of my growing up. But I haven't read anything of hers for some years. So this autobiography intrigued me. I found the first part of it gripping and saddening - the cruelty an...more
One night in their [her sons'] bedroom with all their clutter and paraphernalia, painted soldiers laid out on trays for battle yet to be, Paul McCartney entered.
This is just one of the wonderful examples of understated prose found in Edna O'Brien's memoir The Country Girl, published last year. Many lesser writers would have changed the order of words in the anecdote to put the emphasis on McCartney rather than banal domestic details. But such was Edna's life while in Swinging Sixties London; a l...more
Feb 04, 2008 Cathy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
I had read the Country Girls trilogy a few years ago, but knew next to nothing about Edna O'Brien's life; I was inspired to read her memoir when I read a feature on her and the book in Vanity Fair a few months ago (and a pretty solid chunk of the chapter about her marriage was quoted in the article). And I liked the book, but it left me a little cold--or rather, the writing left me a little cold and distant, not the content. I vaguely remember a similar sensation from reading The Country Girls....more
A quote on the back of the edition I read says "Flashes of prodigious beauty and power." Yes, I agree. But the flashes were few and far between.

I just don't 'get' her as a writer. This book was all over the place, and the last few chapters, I had to force myself through and mostly skimmed them.
Nick Turner
I listened to an audio adaptation read by the author, and abridged by Miranda Davies. Lyrical fiddle music introduces each episode of reflections from Edna O'Brien's memoir.
Mickey Gregory
Had a hard time staying into this book. Ended up skimming the last half.
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...more
Blue Willow
Nel 1960, quando fu pubblicato nella cattolicissima Irlanda, questo libro vennne bruciato sui sagrati delle chiese. Quei tempi per fortuna sono passati e questo libro ha perso certamente molto del suo potere di suscitare scandalo, ma a rimanere invece, dopo cinquanta anni, è la freschezza della scrittura di Edna O'Brien, così brava a descrivere l'amicizia delle giovani "ribelli" Kate e Baba, amiche-nemiche inseparabili, decise a godersi tutto il meglio della vita e ad abbandonare l'aria immobile...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
My Two mistakes, most probably, are the reasons for the three stars.

The Mistakes No 1: I had started this book immediately after the reading another memoir by one of Edna O'Brien's sons (Father & I: A Memoir). Her son's memoir contained most of the scenes narrated in Edna's memoir. There were, certainly, the differences. Still the feeling of repetition and the dullness that known details bring to the reading mind could not be avoided.

The Mistake No 2: I had not read any of Edna O'Brien's ea...more
Confusing readers, O'Brien called her memoir Country Girl, and her series of novels Country Girls. Goodreads has put the review of the novels with this memoir! (And even more confusing is this photo is on the cover of one of her other novels!) But I certainly digress as the memoir is what I am addressing here. Each chapter presents a different angle of her fascinating life: her parents, her dreadful first husband, her writing, her affairs, and the relationships with lots of famous literary and m...more
Elizabeth Finnegan
Edna O'Brien's memoir begins with her recollections of her childhood. This part, written beautifully with well-crafted descriptions, is familiar fare - a collection of humorous yarns, and fond sentimentalities. It's saving grace is that O'Brien writes each chapter as a charming short story in its own right.
Part two, which focuses on the early part of O'Brien's career and her problematic marriage is far more riveting. She was a woman of her time, both in her willingness to experiment and in her...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Dark
  • The Newton Letter  (Revolutions Trilogy, #3)
  • Fools of Fortune
  • Finbar's Hotel
  • The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life
  • A World of Love
  • The Plough and the Stars
  • Good Behaviour
  • The Heather Blazing
  • Four Letters of Love
  • Solace
  • Ghost Light
  • Summer Bird Cage, the
  • Malone Dies
  • Ormond
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...
The Country Girls Trilogy In the Forest Country Girl House of Splendid Isolation Girl With Green Eyes

Share This Book

“Money talks, but tell me why all it says is just Goodbye.” 9 likes
“It was the first time that I came face to face with madness and feared it and was fascinated by it.” 7 likes
More quotes…