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August Is A Wicked Month

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  808 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Separated from her husband, Ellen finds herself living alone in a city she dislikes - a place that denies her past and offers no hope for her future. Determined to change her life, she decides to go south in search of sun and companionship.
Published 1967 by Irish Book Center (first published 1965)
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There I was, feeling the beginnings of a mid-life crisis starting to emerge. . . contemplating the merits of a navel piercing. . . or worse. . . when, suddenly, I spotted a black and white book cover featuring a snarky gal with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. A definite look of devil-may-care sitting snug around the corners of her mouth.

The blurb for the book reads something like. . . failed marriage. . . sexual discovery. . . liaisons in France.

Hey, I thought, it would be way cheaper to re
Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to experience catholic guilt. but not men -you should stay away from this book
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I picked this up thinking, ooh a nice summery read, something on the 1001 books list and possible some guilt-free, liberated and escapist, pseudo-feminist sex frolics (somewhere in a middle ground that is neither the weird dirty old man kinkiness of Michel Houllebecq and isn't Jilly Cooper either) . Ha ha. Wrong. But first to address what is possibly the funniest and most patronising review I've ever read on the back of a book. I give you... Mr Gavin Ewart of the Evening Standard...

"This is a te
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008)
Don't be misled by the sexy photo on the cover of the book. Although this book is about a lonely 28-y/o housewife, Ellen, she is not really your sex-starved character who sleeps with men from one bed to another. This book was Edna O'Brien's (born 1930) follow up to the controversial and banned first novel, The Country Girls Trilogy. The trilogy was banned in Ireland because of its broke the silence on sexual matters and social issues during the repressive period in Ireland history after World Wa ...more
Under the soft skin and behind the big, melting eyes her heart was like a nutmeg. Some of it had been grated away by life but the very centre never really surrendered to anyone…

I struggle with Edna O'Brien's writing. Despite her wonderful technique, I often feel that I am missing the point. I'd liked the descriptions of this novel—a divorced woman goes to France in search of sun and sex. What could be wrong with that premise? Lots, apparently. Perhaps because I'm not Irish Catholic, I don't feel
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love that publishers are bringing back these vintage titles. This one was originally published in 1965. That’s not to say the story is dated. It’s about a young Irish woman with an eight year old son who’s been separated from her husband for a year. She’s also gone without sex for at least that long and she’s missing it. When her husband takes their son on a camping trip she bounces around her house for a bit, has a desultory sexual encounter with a conflicted neighbor, and then decides to go ...more
Fiona MacDonald
A strange book, sort of surreal. I haven't really read much Edna O 'Brien (although i seem to be collecting a number of her books). 'August is a wicked month' was banned in several countries and burned in several more. This shows the incredible power of the written word. It has the capacity to induce violence among ignorant people.
Ellen is bored at home in London, bored with her straight-laced sexual encounters and bored with life in general. Her ex husband has taken their son away on holiday an
Anita Pomerantz
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
More of a novella, O'Brien does a tremendous job of bringing us inside the mind of a woman, Ellen, who is hurting and insecure after a divorce. In an effort to forget, Ellen takes a holiday in France, and basically behaves in a way that ends up reinforcing her sadness and depression. I loved the way this book was written. O'Brien really takes you inside Ellen's mind the entire time, and it is hard not to empathize with her feelings and situation and her deep deep loneliness. You feel like you ar ...more
A. Mary
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: irish-novels
There's no one like Edna O'Brien to burst the fantasy bubble of the fairy tale romance. People who fall in love stagger out the other side stunned gutted disillusioned awakened. O'Brien's skills are consistent from book to book, and the story isn't sensationally told. This novel might be made into an independent movie, but it could never be a mainstream Hollywood film with Julia Roberts. She wouldn't touch it with a stick. O'Brien's protagonist is a young, divorced, mother, who decides to go on ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Another well written Edna O'Brien novel, but not as entertaining and charming and the first two in the Country Girl series. The protagonist, Ellen, is in her late 20s and no longer living with her husband. She is looking after her 8 year old son in London in the 1960s. O'Brien very effectively describes a woman who is hurting, insecure and unsure of what she wants. She decides on the spur of the moment to fly to France for a short one week holiday whilst her ex-husband has taken their ...more
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Sometimes life can be lonely and isolating. Sometimes you feel the loneliest in a group of people.
I am still thinking about this book and the progression of events. I am impressed with how well Edna O'Brien conveys emotional peaks and valleys, how she can expose the depths of loneliness, sadness and grief.

Rather than spend a lonely summer in London, Ellen decides to take herself on a lovely vacation to the French Riviera only to walk into a comedy of errors. After being brought as low as possi
Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This must have been audacious stuff back in 1965, with its frank depiction of feminine carnality, but today it seems dated. Holidaying in France and eating an artichoke is no longer the height of decadence - and please, please do not describe a penis as resembling 'a foxglove in a secret glade'. ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-authors
This was terrific. A new voice, not the same Kate of The Country Girls trilogy, a slightly older but much more mature woman. Ellen Sage is, like Kate, the divorced mother of a young son. Her estranged husband and child go on a camping holiday to Wales and rather than sit around stuffy London, Ellen books a flight to the Côte d'Azure, looking for sex—pure and simple. But as Oscar Wilde said of truth, it is rarely pure and never simple. After a number of false starts with hotel staff, Ellen falls ...more
This review is a complete spoiler, so if you have not read the book and plan to, you might want to read it first. If you don't plan to, you can read this as a plot summary.

I love Edna O'Brien so much. I just get her and I feel she gets me. She turned 90 on December 15, 2020. Just the other day.

This was her next novel after The Country Girls Trilogy. Ellen, formerly of Ireland, lives in London and is divorced. She and her ex share a son who is eight years old. He mostly lives with Ellen but has
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, 1001-books, france
Ellen, like so many other women, is dissatisfied with her life. She has left her husband, taking their son with her. When he comes to take the boy on holiday, she makes her own to the south of France, spending her days in a haze of decadance and forgetfulness.
If you are looking for a book with a lot of plot, then you best skip this book. It is an homage to internal thought and introspection, reminding me in many ways of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, and Sylvi
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: u-k
Edna O’Brien’s writing rocked Ireland in the 1960s. So much so that her publications were banned there and in some cases burnt due to their honest portrayals of the sex lives of their characters. O’Brien’s works often revolve involve the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men and to society as a whole.

If you read her novel August is a Wicked Month with this information in mind you can really gain an appreciation for her efforts. For me, the main character Ellen was deplor
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
While I'd actually give this something like 3 1/2 stars, I bumped it up to 4 because even lesser O'Brien beats so much of what I've read lately - and this book is nearly as old as I am. A short novel, it is nevertheless jam-packed with the O'Brien's trademark haunting prose - in her best works (House of Splendid Isolation, In the Forest), her trance-like writing is both comforting and harrowing - often at the very same time. August... is a quiet glimpse into the life of a woman who is starved fo ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
August is a wicked month because when Ellen's son went on a camping trip with his father [Ellen's estranged husband who hated her:] Ellen was so lonely, as she has been lonely since her marriage broke up, that she had sex with a married man who has a mistress he couldn't leave and who didn't call her anymore after they've had sex during their third meeting, so Ellen, on a whim went to a holiday in France hoping to find love and sex there, as she was just 28, but all she found there was frustrati ...more
Beth Bonini
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
I just scrolled through a long list of tags to describe this book and rejected every one. It's not quite historical - although it's that more than contemporary. Set in the 1960s, it was probably considered quite 'modern' at the time. It feels dated to me without feeling wholly of the past. The main character, a 28 year old mother (and former nurse) - separated from her husband - goes on a holiday in France, by herself, for the purpose of having a sexual adventure. It's not really about her marri ...more
What a strange and fascinating little novel. O'Brien describes certain emotions and sensations in a way that is jarringly blunt, but still genuine and familiar. Ellen, the protagonist, is both naive and sensual, and her desperation for physical and emotional fulfillment leads her to make decisions that, as a reader, made me cringe. The contrast between the raw honesty of the prose and the incomprehensibility of so many of Ellen's decisions has the effect of pulling the reader into the narrative, ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lushly written voyage of self discovery! INTO A SWAMP OF CATHOLIC GUILT. I guess in the early 1960s a nice irish lady couldn't buy a plane ticket and some scandalous trousers and head to France for anonymous holiday sex without a Severe God Smiting. Make a note of it, sluts who like carmine polish on your toes. Make a note of it and keep those knees together lest your sin kill your kid and net you a nice case of trichomoniasis.

Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
oH my goodness -Edna O`Briens writing is so unique and beautiful.An adventure and a very sad book,sometimes what you seek is not what you think.This book was banned in some countries when it came out- faintly scandalous now. Great tale about how what we have never seems enough and then we are disappointed with our dreams at times. ...more
Apr 19, 2011 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Monica by: LAURI CRUMLEY COATES
Shelves: wish-list, priority
Looks too good to miss...
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Got the new autobiography, but had never read anything by her, so gave this a try first. DARK! And attitudes of its time. But well written and compulsively readable!
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
I like Edna O'Brien a lot, but have not read much of her earlier works of which this is one. She was making a literary statement as I understand it, fighting back against Catholic censure. It was a good example of the times, the 60's, overseas, but seems very dated and awkward now. A woman tries to assert her independence and sexual freedom, but she is sort of a vague, superficial character for which you never really feel much sympathy for or empathy with. I am not sure what the moral of the sto ...more
Grada (BoekenTrol)
I took my time reading this book. And since it's August... I thought I'd give it a go.
I must say, that I was a bit disappointed. I even considered putting it away, but then decided to finish it anyway, for it's only about 170 pages.
And luckily I did. The ending (the last quarter or so) of the book more or less made up for the rest of it. A sad book, a main character I did not feel conbected to, I'm still not very impressed with the book as a whole, but it was a quick and okay read.
Terry Clague
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Irish, cottage, poor, pink cheeks, came to be a nurse in London, loved by all the patients, loved being loved, ran from the operating theatre because one of those patients had a cancer was just opened and closed again, met a man who liked the nursemaid in me, married him in a registry office, threw away the faith, one son soon after. Over the years the love turned into something else and we broke up. Exit the nice girl.

Two kinds of men, they fuck everyone or they fuck no one. All very sad

Gina Rheault
Penguin soft-porn with gratuitous melodrama thrown in for good measure. I suppose this is a landmark of some sort in women's literature? Set in the late 1950's, the writing itself is not bad. It reminded me of Patricia Highsmith's 'Carol' but for a heterosexual bad girl -- a single mother freed of motherly obligations goes off on vacation while her dutiful ex-husband goes camping with the young son. In search of men, and adventures in bed, she becomes the obnoxious Anglo in a French resort.

Feb 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Angela by: San Francisco Panorama book review
Shelves: irish
We meet Ellen as her recently-turned-ex husband and son are going away on a camping trip in Wales. Coming off getting dumped from an affair gone nowhere and facing weeks of loneliness, Ellen books a trip to the French Riviera and goes shopping for the kind of scandalous clothes that will advertise her licentious openness to new experiences: trousers! We've got a case of full-on Irish Catholic repression here, ca 1965, dawn of the sexual revolution.

And really one of the most fascinating things a
Sandra Lawson
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read anything by Edna O'Brien for a long time, but still have fond memories of the Country Girls trilogy.

August is a Wicked Month was written in 1965 and may seem rather dated now. Ellen has left behind her life in Ireland (repression, Catholicism and Magdalen Laundries) and now lives in 'Swinging London'. With no commitment forthcoming from her latest lover, she books her first visit to the South of France and yearns 'to be free and young and naked with all the men in the world makin
Rosaleen Lynch
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
O'Brien presents the disappointment, grief, guilt, isolation and hope and despair of a woman stuck in a cycle she cannot escape whether she leaves her home, the country or her own body. Ellen is a woman living in the sixties, a new permissive society, where sexual experimentation leads to everything from pornographic photos being taken of her to being used as a non-chemical Viagra to sexually transmitted disease. Is this exploitation if she colludes?

A fish out of water, not just in being Irish
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Edna O’Brien is 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 Medal from ...more

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