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My Dream of You

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  2,300 ratings  ·  306 reviews
A New York Times notable book and bestseller, this debut novel from Irish Times columnist Nuala O'Faolain takes on life and love with Dickensian flair and the striking intimacy that characterized her bestselling and acclaimed memoir, Are You Somebody?

Set in Ireland and spanning a century and a half, My Dream of You unfolds the compelling stories of two women and their que
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  2,300 ratings  ·  306 reviews

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Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of two books by journalists I read this week. This book can't be easily pigeonholed, which might put off some readers. But it appealed to me, maybe even more, because of its ambiguity. The novel tells the tale of Kathleen de Burca, an Irish-born travel writer coming to grips with her terrible past in midlife while she tries to chase down the true story of adultery among the aristocracy during the famine. Kathleen's desire to understand passion, and its absence, leads her to reflect o ...more
Carla Acheson
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My Dream of You is one of those powerful stories that stays with you long after reading.

The story is narrated by Kathleen, a travel writer from Ireland, who at the death of a close colleague and friend begins to evaluate her life at the age of fifty. Struggling with loneliness and a deep lack of fulfilment she embarks on a journey back to the Ireland she left at the age of seventeen in order to confront her roots and deal with the demons of her past.

Much of the book is devoted to Kathleen’s memo
Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I had heard an intrview of Nuala O'Faolain on NPR as her book was coming out, and I had so enjoyed her wit that I rushed to the store to buy the book. What a great idea that was! I was so swept away by the double tale of the book that I called in sick from work to read through until I was done. It is like a duet in harmony on the destinies of women in Ireland, today and one century ago, young or middle-aged, always not quite loved enough and having to pay the price for being vibrant beings. Even ...more
Maria Stevenson
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rohit Sharma
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How frequently you come across an Author or a book that you never want ever to end? And on top of that how frequently you come across a book that you actually want to give a good five star rating and really look forward to reading it again very soon. And has that ever happened with you that you come across a book which is so unbelievably like your own story that if you plan to write some day, it will look exactly the way the writer has written her or his book. I am a miser when it comes to ratin ...more
Kathleen Flynn
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel so much. With a dead gay friend, a midlife crisis, a globetrotting career, many bad choices with sex and alcohol, a whole boatload of Irish doom, and the sudden appearance of a sexy stranger who turns out to be terrific in bed, it seems a compendium of literary cliches. So much could have gone wrong here! And none of it did, thanks to O'Faolain's excellent writing and scorching emotional truthfulness.

I was impressed by the ingenious structure of this novel, how it tells the s
Julia Mandell
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I was compelled by the subject matter, being a single woman, though only in my twenties--it's about a women in her forties (or fifties? can't remember), never married, who starts examining her life after the death of a friend and ends up returning to Ireland and memories of the family and childhood she ran away from at 17. I loved the character for her entirely normal yet revolutionary life--I've never read a novel before that focused on a modern single woman in suc ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have read her first book, a memoir, and then Julie sent me "My Dream of You" in the Bodacious Box of Books, and I loved it. It's long, and starts pretty slowly, seeming like one of those novels in which the main character keeps doing dumb and self-destructive things again, again, and again. . . but then it had bolts of humor, and some characters who offered insight and common sense, and the main character seemed to be growing and learning from her dumb actions, and I ended up reading it in abo ...more
Oct 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of old-fashioned fiction
O'Faolain takes her time in this wonderfully written novel that unfurls at its own pace. Although it is 530 pages, I read it in a week because it drew me in. The central character is a 50-yr old Irish woman who has spent the last 30 years living in London. She abandoned her dying mother and siblings in Ireland, disgusted with the treatment of women in that country and with her father's coldness. Her new life as a travel writer in London is a solitary and roaming existence. The death of her only ...more
Dora Okeyo
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
I don't know where to start with this book. If I were to talk about the heroine, Kathleen, then I would be taking you through a maze without Ariadne's thread to get you out. If I were to tell you about the Irish, or the Talbots then I would be selling you shirt of some kind of fiction, the one that sinks into your mind when the leaves turn brown and fall to the ground.
So, is this a beautiful read?
Is it worth your time? Well, the written word is always worth some time, but this one would
Kathy Davie
Sep 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Beautiful writer. The method used to write this particular book drove me nuts however. I suspect partly because the ending left so very many loose ends. And it was maddening to read—I thought she’d never get to the point. I almost stopped reading before I finished, it drove me so nuts!

There were so many subplots and so much backtracking to relate the history of each subplot and naturally none of the backtracking was in any particular order.

But, O’Failon does use words beautifully…
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow. What a beautiful, powerful, heavy book. It's an enlightening look at one woman's redefinition of identity and love and passion, her struggles with her past and the memory of her mother and her entry into middle age, and how she learns to heal. Just riveting. Also some absolutely lovely descriptions of Ireland's scenery and people.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
For my vacation reading while I was in Ireland, I wanted to stay with the Irish theme (since I was in Ireland) but perhaps deviate slightly from the history books (since I would be going to a million museums, and also I was running short on Irish history books), so I instead packed — among other volumes — the copy of Nuala O'Faolain's My Dream of You that I rescued from my aunt's Irish lit collection over the summer. It turned out to be a perfect choice for reading on the plane, and sometimes ...more
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-literature
My first read was 8-13 May 2012.
Second read: 20-25 September 2013. I added a star this time around; having read a lot more Irish literature in the intervening time, and reading it critically for my PhD thesis, I was able to engage with the text on a much deeper level, and it meant a lot more to me this time.

Nuala O’Faolain’s My Dream of You reads like lyric poetry. The reader is transported through 500 pages of beautifully articulated sensations, feelings and images – “All along that stretch of
Angela Dawn
Apr 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Layered and atmospheric,
this book relates, within the context of an historical divorce case, the tragic life of the Irish country people during what is euphemistically called "The Potato Famine", but was actually a form of genocide manipulated by the English aristocracy, as well as a writer's struggle with the emotional emptiness of her own life.
Ms. O'Faolain's honesty in portraying women's sexuality is also refreshing.
The painful loneliness that her semi-autobiographical central character, an
Mar 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
I did not like anything about this book. The author tried to make a connection between two women: one a current day woman who sleeps around, and the other a woman from the Irish gentry in the 1850's that according to court records had an affair. The modern day woman couldn't keep herself from sleeping with anyone, literally and frequently. A possibility that there could be any connection between these two women is extremely remote; yet, the author kept insisting there was. Frankly, I wonder how ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
I really only picked this book up because I was running out of the books I brought on vacation with me and someone left it in our villa. It seemed like it was my best option among the Da Vinci Code and James Patterson type books that abounded. After finishing Prep I was not in the mood for another book about a woman with no self-esteem and that you really just couldn't get behind because her actions were so self-destructive for no apparent reason. Unfortunately that is what I got. This book is a ...more
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't at all what I thought it would be, but it drew me in because the writing was so beautiful. It took me a while to get into the book, but once I was over a hundred pages into it, I became totally intrigued. First of all, I love the way the author descibes Ireland, how beautiful it is, how scenic. And I love the details about the Famine, and how the author weaves past and present together in the text. This story is about a woman who finally decides to confront her past, and who ope ...more
Mike Hobbins
There is no doubt the Nuala O'Faolain is a talented writer, whose can make you smile, laugh and even bring a tear to your eye. 'A Dream of You', however, did not sustain my interest; the novel seemed to lose its way as it veered between chick-lit and historical novel or, more accurately, romance. While the Talbot case produced some fascinating insights into the social mores and prejudices of mid-nineteenth century Ireland, Kathleen's carefree adventures as a carefree, sexually liberated travel w ...more
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hmm, interesting to read the mixed reviews of this book on GoodReads. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author is a grand storyteller and her language drew me in. I learned more about Ireland and the Potato Famine than I had known before and loved how she portrayed the people the main character, Kathleen , got to know during her sojourn in her homeland. And I really loved the story of the main character, who seemed very human and real to me. No, there are no neatly wrapped happy endings to the book, ...more
B the BookAddict
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
While this book is essentially about one modern day woman's struggle with loneliness, there is an amazing sub-story when she researches the potato famine of 1839 in Ireland and learns of the moral and legal difficulties facing Irish women who wanted to divorce in that time.

I really liked this book because it taught me so much about a period of history that I was so unaware of. As many have pointed out, the main character was indeed flawed in her judgements regarding her personal life. But I thin
Tynan Power
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book. I was completely blown away by the quality of the writing and was quickly drawn in to the story. This surprised me a little as I don't think the description of the book was able to convey how absorbing and well-written the book is. It is the kind of book that is worth reading even if there is nothing about the plot that seems intriguing.

This book isn't historical fiction, per se, though I put it on that shelf. It includes a story within a story, and that inner tale is his
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was lent to me by my daughter and I really wanted to like it. It is well-written and believable but somehow I found myself disliking the author, and that impacted my appreciation of the story. I surprised myself because I found that I was passing judgement...which is not a good thing. AAGH! Despite my experience I think it is worthwhile and something that women who choose "the road not taken" would really enjoy.
Jennifer Louden
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
God I love this book. I read it years ago and reading it again I was once again struck by how subtle and moving the story is and also how much more I could relate to it as a woman in her 50's. The writing is sublime while always serving the unfolding of her quest to understand her choices and how she comes to terms with them, and embraces hope, is so moving. We miss you Nuala!
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-author
A wonderful way of returning to Ireland, through layers of storytelling, to finally discover the business of celebrating life and love is in the small things, the shared homemade dinner and the cup of tea, watching the birds in the trees, letting go of bitterness.
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Powerful. I was moved by this book so much I wrote a poem about it.
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A great story!
Nuala! you will be sadly missed.
"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam"
Arren Lenau
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this novel in a free library and I immediately fell in love with the author. It reads like a memoir, and sure enough, much of it draws from Nuala’s life. In turn, I ended up listening to her memoir Almost There which also discusses her working on this novel after the success of her first memoir, Are You Somebody?
This is a rare voice and such an important voice, that of an older, childless, unmarried woman who sets her own terms and lives her life just as she wants, with all the complica
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
A travel writer having a bit of a mid-life crisis decides on a change of pace and a visit back home to Ireland, a place she swore she'd never return to. She goes to research an affair between a lady and servent in the 1800s during the famine. She has little to go on, but thinks there might be something there. She's drawn to the story both because a part of her relates and also because she's searching for and trying to believe in passionate love, something she had never known.
The story flops betw
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Travel journalist Kathleen de Burca is about to turn 50 years old. Her best friend has died suddenly, her job suddenly seems meaningless, she has no current lover and few friends, and her family relationships are distant, both emotionally and physically. Searching for a new direction, she decides to investigate a controversial court case that took place 150 years ago in Ireland, where she was born, and where she left two decades previously, vowing never to return. Her sojourn there becomes an in ...more
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Nuala O'Faolain is an Irish journalist, columnist and writer who attended a convent school in the north of Ireland, studied English at University College, Dublin, and medieval English literature at the University of Hull before earning a postgraduate degree in English from Oxford.

She returned to University College as a lecturer in the English department, and later was journalist, TV producer, boo

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