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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  122 reviews
From the Man Booker Prizewinner, a brilliant and moving novel about celebrity, sexual power, and a daughters search to understand her mothers hidden truths.

Katherine ODell is an Irish theater legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mothers celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mothers and her own.

Katherine began her career on
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  440 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Ron Charles
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels-about-art
Anne Enright writes so well that she just might ruin you for anyone else. The deceptively casual flow of her stories belies their craft, a profound intelligence sealed invisibly behind lifes mirror. Over the course of seven novels, this first laureate of Irish fiction has won the Booker Prize for The Gathering in 2007 and won readers around the world.

Her new novel, Actress, explores a mother-daughter relationship burdened by fame. The narrator is a novelist named Norah recalling the tumultuous
I did not expect to love this as much as I did. I often struggle with historical fiction and I have tried to read Enright before but found her endlessly bleak this book is the opposite of that. I found it clever and funny and absolutely incredibly well-written. The latter was probably to be expected there is a reason Enright is one of the Great Writers of our time. I listened to the audiobook which she reads herself and this was such a genius thing to do her narration is pitchperfect and ...more
Eric Anderson
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a special fondness for novels that are about actresses/actors. Two of my favourite books are Joyce Carol Oates Blonde about the actress Norma Jean Baker who becomes the persona Marilyn Monroe and Susan Sontags In America about the Polish actress Helena Modjeska who helped found a utopian community in the late 1800s. I even wrote my MA dissertation on these novels and how both writers explore the borders between identity and performance in their stories. I also have a love for Anne Enright ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ive been reading entirely too much genre fiction and not even the best of it, so a palate cleanser was due and nothing does the trick quite like a work of proper literature. It may sound pretentious, but you know when youre in a presence of literary greatness, you just do. You dont even have to love the plot, you can still appreciate the sheer beauty of language. Somehow Ive never read the author, though she is quite well known and even an Booker recognized. Well, Actress was a terrific ...more
Peter Boyle
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have a love-hate relationship with the work of Anne Enright. I would consider The Green Road one of the finest Irish novels of the 21st century. But I felt nothing for The Gathering or The Forgotten Waltz, despite the adulation and awards they received. And I'm sorry to say that Actress falls into the latter category.

The story is narrated by Norah, daughter of the legendary Katherine O'Dell, a flame-haired star of stage and screen. Now a middle-aged writer, she reminisces about growing up as
Gumble's Yard
Among the images of my mother that exist online is a black-and-white photograph of me, watching her from the wings. I am four or five years of age, and sitting on a stool, in a little matinee coat and a bowl haircut. Beyond me, Katherine ODell performs to the unseen crowd. She is dressed in a glittering dark gown, you can not see the edge so her or the shape her figure makes, just the slice of cheekbone, the line of her chin. Her hands are uplifted.

Longlisted for the Womens Prize.

Anne Enright
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF 32%

Great writer marking time.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

I think this book had a lot of potential with it being about a daughter searching for the truth about her mother. I think the issue was the story became too muddled, almost bordering on becoming confusing, at times, when the story shifted from past to present. Overall, it was a good effort but something I had a hard time staying interested in.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually like Enright but I really didnt on with this one. I found it boring and difficult to follow in some places. Just not for me. ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Review to come
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookbrowse-arc
Thank you to Bookbrowse and W.W. Norton for an advanced readers copy. In return I will give an honest review.
I'm a huge fan of Anne Enright. One of my all time favorite books is The Gathering. I've also enjoyed The Green Road and The Forgotten Waltz. So when this book was offered as a First Impression Review on Bookbrowse I jumped at the chance. At first I was uncertain if I was going to like this book it felt different from her other novels but I kept reading and after a few pages into the
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
ACTRESS is a beautiful stream of conscience, a love letter to mothers and daughters and husbands. Written from the point of view of the daughter of a very famous Irish actress (think Elizabeth Taylor-esque), the writing is the star of this book. It is lyrical and heartfelt, and will sweep you up in it.

Katherine ODell lives a large life - its a bit stereotypically actress, but so dictates the title of this book. She is an amazing character, and I also really liked her daughter Norah, our
Nov 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

This is the second book by this author I've tried to read, and there is something about her writing style that turns me off almost immediately. Everything feels like one giant run-on sentence. Her books are wordy without ever really saying much of anything. This one left me cold from the very start, and it didn't take me more than half an hour to give up.
The Green Road is among my most memorable reads of the past five years, so I was eagerly awaiting Enrights new novel, which is on the Womens Prize longlist. I read the first 30 pages and found I wasnt warming to the voice or main characters. Norah is a novelist who, prompted by an interviewer, realizes the story she most needs to tell is her mothers. Katherine ODell was a great fake, an actress who came to epitomize Irishness even though she was actually English. Her slow-burning backstory is ...more
Susan Johnson
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
This is a beautifully written book about a mother-daughter relationship. The mother happens to be a famous actress mostly in Ireland and that, of course, makes a major impact on their relationship. The narrator never learns the name of her father as her mother tells her one that he doesn't deserve a name.

It's rather a stream on conscious book alternating between her childhood in the 1970's and now. A lot of the important references of her times such as the British and Irish fighting were not
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2019indchal
Actress is the story of Irish (but actually British) actress/star Katherine O'Dell as written by her daughter Norah. It's a touching portrait of a mother/daughter relationship: loving, conflicted, complicated as those relationships usually are. It is also the story of the relationships between the sexes in a world in which men still hold the power and how some of them abuse that power. Both Katherine and Norah have sexual secrets that strongly impact their lives as well as their relationship.

Marija (Inside My Library Mind)
ugh at times this was promising, but at times i almost dnf-ed it so?? RTC.
Kate Vane
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Actress is a novel in the guise of a biography or perhaps a memoir. It is the story of Katherine ODell, famed Irish actress, sometime star of Broadway and Hollywood, as told by her daughter, Norah.

It begins with a long, beautifully meandering series of images as Norah attempts to capture the essence of her mother, the intersection between public and private, the intimate moments, and their shared place at the heart of the stylish parties in their Dublin home.

Then it shifts into the style of a
Alexandra Daw
I've only read one other of Anne Enright's books (The Gathering) which I know is a sad state of affairs, but there it is. I've been crook lately so this was the perfect size read to dip in and out of when one was feeling wan.

It is essentially a story about a mother-daughter relationship and fits in well with my genre of reading this year which seems to be about memoirs. Written as a memoir, it is of course fiction first and foremost. Unless I am particularly unobservant (which is possible) we
Ana Kinsella
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Early contender for book of the year from me
Erin Glover
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
The writing is amazing. Enright knows how to craft a sentence. Thats the only reason I finished the book. Because the story was, well, boring. I kept waiting for something to happen but nothing ever did. I get that in literary fiction were looking for character transformation and its not all about plot, but the character transformation of the actresss younger daughter just wasnt amazing. Norah writes the story to her several decades-long husband but I just didnt get it. So her mother was ...more
Linda Zagon
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "Actress" by Anne Enright, W.W.Norton & Company, March 2020

Anne Enright, author of "Actress" A Novel has written a poignant, intense and emotional story. The Genre for this Novel is Fiction, although there is a feeling that it is a memoir or biography. The author explores the complex relationship between a mother and daughter. The timeline for the story is set in the past and the author's present when it pertains to the characters or events. Katherine O'Dell is
Hannelore Cheney
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you NetGalley and W.W. Norton and Company for the eARC.
Norah is recalling her mother Katherine O'Dell's legendary stage and film career and what it was like to grow up with her. It's a beautiful book; sad, poignant and ultimately uplifting to me. Her mother was a star loved by many in Ireland and as far as Hollywood, mesmerizing as both an actress as well as a singer. Norah felt much loved by her mum, and was a quiet spectator of her stage performances as well as the many parties taking
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Booker Prize winning author Anne Enright tells the life story of a famous actress whose heyday was in the 1940s and 1950s in this latest novel. Its narrated by Norah, daughter of Katherine ODell, and she seeks to reveal the real woman behind her mothers myth. Her mother ended up in a mental institution, and died in 1986, but what circumstances drove her to such a demise? This novel is all about the finer details that make up a life, and easy it can be to invent yourself. It also contrasts ...more
Tarrah Marie (Wayward Readers)
A narrative of general fiction that presumptively focuses on the complex aspects between mother and daughter but is told through an intriguing and imaginative plot line. Anne Enright lets her literary competence shine through with the eloquence of her writing. The story is astute, descriptive, and downright alluring. 5 stars.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC. It was read and reviewed voluntarily.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I find it difficult to review new novels. I recommend so many that fall by the wayside. If they are reissued years later, as they sometimes are, I feel vindicated.  But I ask myself two questions before I post a review: did I really like the book? And will it hold up for 10 years?  (I never know the answer to the latter.)

Anne Enrights new novel "Actress" is a winner for our timeto the point that it might win the Booker.  (She won the Booker Prize in 2007 for The Gathering.) 
Cherise Wolas
Norah, the daughter of Katherine O'Dell, a famous Irish actress, considers her mother's life. She is spurred to do so when a young woman comes to interview her, for her dissertation, and when Norah tells her husband about it - the unnamed You - he says why don't you write it. This isn't actually the book Norah might write about her mother, but rather an exploratory, anecdotal, episodic narrative, where chronology is not the focus, and yet everything coalesces together. Norah, in her late 50s, in ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Can you tell your mother's story? What would you say?

Norah faces these questions as she writes, in stream-of-consciousness form, about her mother Katherine, a famous actress whose charisma and allure made me think of Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth. Norah presents herself as both defender and prosecutor. It isn't that their relationship is fraught with anything--Norah understands, accepts, and embraces her role as the daughter of Katherine O'Dell--but rather that Norah, for however well she
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book took me so long to get through, which pisses me off, because I have better books to read. The writing was good, I enjoyed the authors style a lot and I would love to read more of her work. But what was the point of this book? Katherine ODell was a famous actress who ended up going crazy in old age and shot someone in the toe. Thats not interesting. The whole story was just all over the place and I never knew who Norah was talking to and I needed a good five pages before I was aware of ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked up this ARC from work for two reasons: Ireland, and the main character's daughter's name, Norah (my niece's name). I was rewarded with short trips back to favorite places of mine (Dalkey, Bray) and an alternately poetic and jarring look at fame and its repercussions, especially for women. My difficulty with the only previous Anne Enright novel I read came up also in this one: the tendency of her characters to never be quite certain of what has happened to them. Their narratives always ...more
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The Mookse and th...: 2020 Women's Prize Longlist: Actress 7 46 Mar 09, 2020 10:31AM  

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Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels. In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

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