Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers” as Want to Read:
The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  254 ratings  ·  42 reviews
The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinéad Gleeson, is an exhilarating anthology of thirty short stories by some of the most gifted women writers this island has ever produced.

Niamh Boyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Maeve Brennan, Mary Costello, June Caldwell, Lucy Caldwell, Evelyn Conlon, Anne Devlin, Maria Edgeworth, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Norah Hoult, Mary Lavin, Eimear
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published September 10th 2015 by New Island Books
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 The Long Gaze Back, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Tami Coleman At first I thought it was because the story ends in the future. But that can't be since the author, Ife, signs off in 2015. I guess we'll just have to…moreAt first I thought it was because the story ends in the future. But that can't be since the author, Ife, signs off in 2015. I guess we'll just have to chalk it up to magical realism.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  254 ratings  ·  42 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers
Shirley Revill
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A collection of short stories from talented women Irish writers who's collective work spans four centuries.
I hadn't listened to any of the stories before and it was fascinating listening to the vast array of talent that was portrayed.
Each and every story leaves a lasting impression and the stories cover many different topics.
I listened to the audiobook version of this book and the narration was absolutely wonderful.
Fully deserves five stars as I enjoyed this audiobook immensely.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This anthology came about because of the general neglect of women writers in Ireland and the failure to represent women's voices in such anthologies. Gleeson undertook the task to represent Irish women writers going back two centuries. The classic stories selected come from writers known for their work in the short story genre, as well as novels. The contemporary stories were both selected from collections and stories already published by living writers as well as written for this volume.

Some re
Emma Flanagan
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting anthology and conveniently it’s the Dublin One City One Book this year.
Fiona O'dea
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good anthology.. particularly liked Eimear Ryan, Lisa McInerny, Eimear McBride, Molly McCloskey, Mary Costello, Susan Stairs, Mary Lavin and Somerville & Ross.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
A revealation to me of the variety of Irish writing which encapsulates the full range of emotions from humour to heartbreak. A real discovery for me as this collection introduced to many talented Irish women writers.
Gleeson collects stories by Irish women writers from the 18th century to the 21st. All of the tales represent the multiplicity of Irish women's voices, which have sometimes been overshadowed by the famous male writers of Irish literature.

Gleeson's collection spans decades and centuries, and highlights names that are more familiar as well as newer Irish women writers. It's an impressive collection, though not, of course comprehensive.

There are some lovely stories here too. It's difficult to find
Jackie Law
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Long Gaze Back is an anthology of short stories written by Irish women whose collective work spans four centuries. They are presented in chronological order, thereby offering the reader the chance to observe how much, and how little, has changed in women’s lives.

The editor, Sinead Gleeson, comments in her introduction that, with a few notable exceptions, it is only in the past few decades that women writers, particularly Irish women writers, have been selected for inclusion in anthologies. I
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
In scope the anthology covers an impressive amount of work the work of Irish women writers from the 19th century (some stories) to the present (2016 at the time). However, I found myself only appreciating and enjoying only a handful stories. While there isn't a common theme running through, many stories touch upon grief, pregnancy, childbirth, trauma, difficult relationships, misogyny to name a few. It's was an interesting read but not a page-turned. ...more
Claire O'Brien
3.5 stars.

The problem with reviewing a collection of short stories by different authors is the quality can vary hugely. I really enjoyed some of these stories, but others less so. Some did not feel like a complete short story. Nice idea though to have a collection of all female Irish writers.
Julieann Wielga
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Purple Jar - Maria Edgeworth 2/5
Frank's Resolve - Charlotte Riddell 2.5/5
Poisson d'Avril - Somerville and Ross 1/5
A Bus from Tivoli -Kate O'Brien 3.5/5
When Miss Coles Made the Tea - Norah Hoult 3/5
The Demon Lover - Elizabeth Bowen 4/5
In the Middle of the Fields -Mary Lavin 4/5
The Eldest Child - Maeve Brennan 3/5
Winter Journey (The Apparitions) - Anne Devlin 3.5/5
The Meaning of Missing - Evelyn Conlon 4/5
The Coast of Wales - Éilís Ní Dhuibhne 3/5
The Crossing - Lia Mills 4.5/5
The Cat and the M
Belinda Carvalho
Enjoyable, well-selected anthology by a wide selection of female writers manages to reflect the various complexities of life as an Irish woman. I could not find fault with it and as collections go I found it quite page turning. Tragic themes such as widowhood, still birth, infidelity and divorce are treated sensitively in subtle stories with just the right amount of Irish wit and humour to get you through the collection. A few stories were a little avant garden for my tastes but remained excelle ...more
Ally Marshall
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I read it in under a week - and for someone who doesn't read much, that's very quick!

The stories focus a lot around death/grieving, unhappy lives and coping techniques. It shows a number of characters dealing with loss or with the fact that their life is different than they had hoped. There are also a couple of fantasy-type stories, and a few comedic ones. I found it easy to pick up the book at lunch or in the evenings and pop a story in. Each were interesting and left a last
Mary Crawford
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I initially read the authors I liked in this short story collection and then tailed off reading any more. I finally finished the others months after starting which probably shows that short stories are not my books of choice. However I did come across a few new authors and really liked the fact that this book will be an introduction for many to the fine female writers we have and have had in Ireland. Overall a treat to read.
Adrienne Power
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful anthology. Especially enjoyed the terrific Mary Lavin Story. Oh of course Somerville and Ross are always like a blast of bright sunshine. The Coast of Wales by Eillis Ni Dhuibhne was my fav though....this was written the best...a simple story which transports you to the place instantly and says what it has to say hidden is this what they mean that what they mean and you are left wondering.
Finn Hynes
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally finished this!
Was sent it by a very close friend shortly after I had my second child on the other side of the world.

It's a rich collection of beautiful storytelling. Short stories are a great way for a tired new mum to get back into reading. This is full of different tales and styles all from Irish authors, but relatable to the global female narrative.
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Book of short stories by Irish writers, some of whom I've never heard of but would like to read in the future. I realise I'm not too keen on short stories....a bit like having one sweet only from the box...nice but you want more. ...more
Mary Lou
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sinead Gleeson’s collection of short stories by Irish women writers contains some precious and often unexpected jewels. A book for dipping in and out of, rather than reading from start to finish as I tried to do - too much good stuff for one go.
Anthologies are, I think, almost always difficult to rate/review. I loved some of the writing in this and was meh about other parts of it. I liked that there was such a range of writing - some light-hearted, some very much not, some quite modern, some from a century ago.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: v, potatoes
Jennifer Lawler
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
In organising her selection chronologically, Gleeson has done more than publish an anthology of Irish women writers. She has created an insightful collection of stories that informs as well as entertains when it comes to the topic of women in Irish society.

The anthology opens with Maria Edgeworth’s succinct grass-is-always-greener fable The Purple Jar. While it seems a slow start, things warm up nicely with Frank’s Resolve by Charlotte Riddle —in which the eponymous Frank has a row with himself
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is an anthology meant to celebrate Irish women's voices in a time when most Irish women haven't had much of a voice. This is a great idea in theory. But I have to say that the execution wasn't amazing. Gleeson, the editor, has a very different idea abut what makes a good story. I've been reading a lot of short stories this year, even if this isn't usually my genre of choice. But this has also taught what a good short story can be - in most cases, similar to a novel,just shorter. I still exp ...more
Veronica Brogan
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I was excited to read this book as it contains 30 short stories written by female authors born or based in Ireland. The stories are published chronologically from oldest to youngest and there are 218 years between the oldest and youngest writers (as obviously some of the writers are dead). I was disappointed there were not so many "older" stories as I was eager to see the difference in language etc. There were only 6 authors in the book born pre 1900. One of my favourite descriptions was in the ...more
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I was visiting Ireland in 2016, I wandered into a bookstore and saw that this anthology was Dublin’s One City One Book. After reading that The Long Gaze Back was a short story collection that compiled works by Irish women writers, I knew it would be a great memento for the trip. I really enjoyed moving through time and learning about each author before reading their work, as I had only heard of Anne Enright and Kate O’Brien before. It can be a little jarring to go from one story to the next ...more
Rue Baldry
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good collection of some good short stories. It starts off with a brief catch-up of the history of Irish women short story writers, covering 1800 - 1975 in 8 stories. Then, the bulk of the stories come from current writers.

Unusually for a collection of this size, I didn’t think there was a single poor story. One was a little experimental for me, a couple a bit too obvious, but the rest were very enjoyable.

Of the older stories, my favourites were When Miss Coles Made the Tea and Poisson
Lucia Gannon
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable sample of Irish women's short story writing through the ages. Particularly enjoyed some that I had never read previously. Had it to hand for almost a year, dipping in and out when I had a spare twenty minutes or so and think I have finally read them all-some more than once. A great variety of style and topics. Good to have such a collection in one book. Will probably keep it un-shelved for another while. ...more
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it

This picked up towards the end for me, with the first few stories (oldest) not being my taste. A lot of themes of motherhood, which I wasn't expecting. Some authors I came across that I'd love to read more of from this anthology:
Maeve Brennan
Elizabeth Bowen
Mary Costello
Susan Stairs
Niamh Boyce
Siobhan Mannion
Lucy Caldwell
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved a third of the stories in this collection and plan on reading more from those authors but overall this was a very bumpy ride. Most of the short stories did not grab my attention and so I read one and put the book down to pick up at a later date, I only managed to finish it because I’m stubborn and I knew there were some precious gems in it. Overall, 3.5 stars would be fair.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Tara Mickela
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
More, more, more!!!!!!!!
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • As You Were
  • Strange Flowers
  • All the Bad Apples
  • The Fire Starters
  • OK, Let's Do Your Stupid Idea
  • The Wild Laughter
  • Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery
  • Acts of Desperation
  • A Ghost in the Throat
  • The Thief of Time
  • Castle Rackrent
  • Eudora Welty: Stories, Essays, and Memoirs
  • Shylock Is My Name
  • Eudora Welty
  • Flashforward
  • White is for Witching
  • Scenes of a Graphic Nature
  • A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
See similar books…

News & Interviews

The coming season is a big one for the science fiction and fantasy genres, with the release of some of 2021's most anticipated speculative...
132 likes · 79 comments