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Annie Dunne

(Dunne Family #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,371 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Annie Dunne and her cousin Sarah live and work on a small farm in a remote and beautiful part of Wicklow in late 1950s Ireland. All about them the old green roads are being tarred, cars are being purchased, a way of life is about to disappear. Like two old rooks, they hold to their hill in Kelsha, cherishing everything. When Annie's nephew and his wife are set to go to ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 19th 2003 by Faber and Faber (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  1,371 ratings  ·  195 reviews

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Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, Annie Annie Dunne. How my heart went out to you as you told me your stories past and present and how the future held such strong fears for you.

What is this growing old, when even the engine that holds our despair and hope in balance begins to fail us? .

Annie Dunne was left with a lump high on her spine after a childhood bout with polio. Her mother died young and her father did his best to look after his daughters. He was in charge of all the police forces in Dublin and they lived in
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars

Sebastian Barry is my favourite Irish author and this is my seventh novel by him. Annie Dunne is his second novel and for me his weakest link in the chain of novels. The prose which he is renowned for is not present in this book nor is his characters well developed compared to books like The Secret Scripture or A Long Long Way and this is just one of those reads where little happens and the plot is wanting in many ways.

The book is a short read at under 230 pages and is set in a small
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Anny Dunne. How is it that in spite of your shortcomings you captured my heart and those of my bookish friends? Is it perhaps because we see a little (or perhaps a lot) of ourselves in you? You certainly wrung my emotions and hung them out to dry.
Diane Barnes
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Where has all the days gone? How am I nearly 62 next year and the summers gone that were allotted to me, and days and weeks and years all added up to that amount already? Where is all that time? Where is it gone? We were young one day and that tomorrow came and we were no longer young".

Well said, Sarah, well said. Annie lives on the charity of her cousin Sarah, who owns a farm of 7 acres, a stone and sod house, 2 cows, chickens, and one nasty old pony. Annie works hard right beside Sarah just
Oh, Kelsha is a distant place, over the mountains from everywhere. You go over the mountains to get there, and eventually, through dreams.

I can picture the two children in their coast arriving. It is the start of the summer and all the customs of winter and spring are behind us. Not that those customs are tended to now, much.

My grand-nephew and grand-niece, titles that sound like the children of a Russian tsar.

My crab-apple tree seems to watch over their coming, like a poor man forever waiting
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Has anyone else noticed? In movies, a character's name alone can define.

I submit to you: Annie.

In the movies, Annies are always: cute/pretty/beautiful; perky/down-to-earth; inquisitive to intelligent/well-read; loyal/wholesome; a perfect woman for a good man.

Think about it.

In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner is devoted to 'Annie', in jeans and flannel shirts, a Berkeley degree, who believes in magic and the first amendment.

Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks will never marry again. Except his son
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Meet the Irish version of Olive Kitteridge. Both Annie and Olive hate and are fearful of changes in their town and their world. Both can be unpleasant and unpredictable. Both can have a sharp tongue and say things they later regret. Both fear aging and feel life has not turned out the way they had once hoped. Both become more self-aware as the story progresses, and the reader sees the softer side of these very human women.

I read Olive Kitteridge twelve years ago and Annie Dunne is fresh in my
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very moving and often lovely story; intense and exciting at times, occasionally horrifying and terrifying. Barry writes beautifully. Although I struggle with phrases like tired as a wolf and pensive as daffodils, at least his writing gives me pause for thought. This is a book to savour.

The eponymous Annie Dunne is a complex character. She is disliked for her bitter tongue and mistrusted because of her bowed back, the result of childhood polio. Inside though, she is a passionate and loving
Mar 25, 2012 added it
Shelves: place
There is nothing petty about Annie Dunne. She is, to the core of her being, an angry and bitter woman, but one possessed of a poet's sensibilities and a brave and loyal heart. Thank you, Sebastien Barry for creating this wonderful character and for preserving her, along with her rural Wicklow life, for future generations. I hope they will be able to appreciate her worth.
P. S. Sebastian Barry revisits Annie Dunne in his more recent novel "On Canaan's Side", which tells the story of Annie's
Richard Moss
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was the only Sebastian Barry novel I had not read to date, but any devotee of his will be familiar with the families that have formed the basis of his work.

Two of Annie Dunne's siblings - Willie and Lily - have also been central characters in Barry's novels, and the Dunne clan is based on a branch of his own family.

We meet Annie in late 1950s rural Ireland. She is aged around 60, and living with her cousin Sarah on a farm in County Wicklow. The novel catalogues the events of one summer,
Aug 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This starts off slowly -- which isn't a criticism -- spinning its tale and characterization and themes as a spider spins a graceful web. The beautiful, lyrical prose gets better and better as the story goes on.
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A simply wonderful read! Not plot-driven -- young brother and sister spend the summer with two spinster aunts on a small farm in Ireland -- but, oh, the writing is positively lyrical. No doubt this guy is Irish!

"At length against the long impulse of the night I go out into the starry yard to comfort the long ropes of my muscles and the field sticks of my bones. I carry the bed heat on the surface of my skin and the soft breeze of the night shows a great interest in me, raising the hairs on my
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You should not read Annie Dunne for action or a complicated plot. Sebastian Barry is a beautiful writer and tells this slice-of-life tale in the most lyrical way. Annie Dunne and her cousin, Sarah, live on a farm in 1950s Ireland. Day by day, they toil away, trying to understand and adjust to the progress sweeping across Ireland. This daily routine is upended by the arrival of a girl and her brother, the children of Annie's nephew, who will stay with the two older women for the summer while ...more
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
At least one writer out there is willing to explore the heart and mind of someone who is not a contemporary, college-degreed, high-performing, successful but tormented over consumer who travels to Provence and dabbles in serial mating.
Stephen Kiernan
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I expected this book, which was a gift from a friend, to tap the heart strings of my Irish heritage and make them sound lovely notes of appreciation and perhaps nostalgia.
For reasons I can't explain, and despite a character with an Irish anger I recognize from relatives (and admittedly sometimes myself), the story didn't grab me. Perhaps the existence of a new and more prosperous Ireland, or the fast evolution in the rural area where I live, made me feel less compelled by the change of dirt
On the one hand AD is a convoluted tale set in a specific time and place, briskly told without coyness or shame, circling themes of universal significance involving difficult and rather unpleasant people in difficult and often unpleasant circumstances.

On the other hand, the gorgeous writing enfolds the reader in comfort, so that we are not wholly repelled or dismayed but rather drawn in and possibly enchanted by this crabby old woman we have come to love.
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Barry has a way of making you feel like you are sitting off to the edge of a scene, experiencing it with all your senses. While this is not a plot driven story, the way he creates the characters and peels back a corner at a time to give you a glimpse at their motivations and inner lives is wonderful. This probably would have been 4 stars for me, but there was one element in here that felt jarringly out of place.
John Needham
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Simply superb. This is the third novel Ive read by Sebastian Barry (the others were The Secret Scripture and A Long Long Way) and hes yet to disappoint. I doubt he ever will though. I hate to descend into stereotype (although I really dont do so disparagingly), but after reading just one sentence you know these are the words of an Irish writer, and a very fine one at that. If you want to experience something of what life was like living and eking out a tiny agricultural living in long-ago 1950s ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
I read and reviewed a Barnes & Noble Nook eBook edition.

Sebastian Barry makes us privy to that neverending internal dialogue we all engage in as we go about our daily doings. In superb prose, which brilliantly evokes Irish speech without the annoying misspellings characteristic of attempts to portray dialects, Barry allows us into Annie's rich internal meanderings: her resentments, her fears, her worries, memories, her delight in the yeasty smell of unbaked loaves of bread, and her genuine
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of Ireland and novels with a genuine voice
I just finished reading this little gem of a book. Lovely and touching in many ways. Set in 1957 Ireland, the novel is told form the point of view of a 60-ish "spinster" who lives with a cousin on a farm in County Wicklow. Her nephew leaves his children with her, ages 4 and 6, for the summer. But this isn't a book about plot so much as a constant knowing of someone's very honest mind. Annie's descriptions are original and evocative, yet reflecting her personality and character.

I chose this book
Chris Waterford
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like "The Idea of Perfection" (Kate Grenville) this is a book about ordinary people living out their daily lives. Like that book, it is filled with the most exquisite prose that makes you want to re-read sentences and paragraphs just for the joy of it. The story improves after a slow start but the writing is like a rich Christmas pudding, with taste sensations that stay in the memory and the occasional delicious surprise.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
And there is no thrashing about of branches to disturb the children, who, after all, are city children, and need time to adjust, and not just to the butter. Salted, unsalted, that is the difference, salted and unsalted life (9).
A day of hardship is a long day, good times shorten the day, and yet a life in itself is but the breadth of a farthing (10).
I am thinking about nothing, slipping from one idle thing to the next as one does beside a fire (10).
Billy Kerris a man with no qualities. There is
You can tell Sebastian Barry is a poet. Every line in this book is beautiful. This is a quiet tale of an aging Irish woman who lives on her cousin's farm, and during one summer in the 1950's, she takes care of two young children, her great-niece and great-nephew. Though most people would hardly call the events of this summer world-shattering, for Annie Dunne it is a defining experience, and most of it takes place in her own mind. I truly love this author.

An example of Barry's prose: "Outside the
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic Sebastian Barry novel.
As part of a series that follows the fortunes of the Dunne family, this one catches up with Annie Dunne when she is entering her 'old age'and dealing with the insecurity of a woman who is dependent on others for a place to call home. There is a lot of tragedy in Annie Dunne, but they are tragedies of the smaller kind, ones that stem from the accumulation of years spent with lack of opportunity, lack of acknowledgement for one's contributions, with a
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For much of this book, I did not feel drawn to picking it up but when I did, I had a hard time putting it down. I think the ambivalence is that the writing is so good but it brought me to a very uncomfortable place all the time. It was actually like a scary film, with danger lurking behind every shadow, like when you don't want to look but you can't turn it off either. I kept thinking, "oh no, don't go there, Annie!" My chest was tight with the suspense, the kind of suspense that i do not like, ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the third Sebastian Barry novel I have read. Set in county Wicklow, it is the beautifully written story of Annie Dunne and her cousin Sarah, on Sarah's 13 acre farm. The story of what happens the summer Annie's nephews two children come to stay has some surprisingly dark undercurrents. The prose is often hauntigly beautiful, the Irish voices ring out clear and strong, as we become emersed in the fragile world of Annie Dunne. We understand quickly how her life has been, the small ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Annie Dunne is a hunchbacked spinster living with her cousin in rural Ireland in the 1950's. She is asked to care for her young grand niece and nephew for a summer and as she tells of the mostly mundane events and hours of drudgery of that summer, the reader learns much of her life story, which turns out to be compelling. As much a character study as it is a novel, we learn of her fears and disappointments as well as her hopes and joys. The writing style is almost poetic and the Irish ways of ...more
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
The writing is beautiful. The story is of changing times; what once was is no more or quickly fading. Though I found the story slow I enjoyed seeing Annie Dunne's thoughts versus her words.

Annie struggles within herself to know her own self and place in the world. She is critical of others until she is shown otherwise, awkward in communicating with others. Though seemingly gruff I think she has a desire to love and be loved. It seems her own childhood hurts and self-loathing are large factors in
Doriana Bisegna
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sebastian Barry does it again! I read The Secret Scripture and knew that I had come across a very talented writer. I have no idea why Irish fiction stirs my soul since I am as Irish as rigatoni with a bolognese sauce but alas it does just that! So does rigatoni with bolognese sauce but that would be for another time and maybe another story! Annie Dunne cracked me up as much as she angered me! The story is non high drama, no plot twists nor turns...just a simple tale of two elderly ...more
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two aging spinsters barely make a living on a small farm in Ireland in the 1950s. For a summer, Annie gets to care for her neice and nephew while their parents are getting settled in London.Parenting a four year old boy and a six year old girl are challenging, but when a man decides to try to marry her companion Sarah, she finds her world crashing down around her. Sebastian Berry understands the thoughts and feelings of an elderly woman and writes this story using Annie's voice.Reading it you ...more
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Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writers

Barry's literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels. In recent years his fiction writing has surpassed his work in the theatre in terms of success, having once been considered a playwright who wrote occasional

Other books in the series

Dunne Family (4 books)
  • The Steward of Christendom (Dunne Family #1)
  • A Long Long Way (Dunne Family #3)
  • On Canaan's Side (Dunne Family #4)

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