One of Ireland’s most acclaimed living writers, Edna O’Brien has produced a number of ground-breaking novels, often addressing attitudes to women’s lives and sexuality. Her first book, The Country Girls, was commissioned in 1960 by the publisher Hutchinson, for whom O’Brien was a manuscript reader. The Country Girls and its sequels, The Lonely Girl and Girls in Their Married Bliss, were critically lauded, but fell foul of censorship from the Catholic Church for their depiction of young women’s religious rebellion and sexual awakening. The theme of growing up as a woman in rural Ireland was one that O’Brien would return to a number of times, notably in 1970’s A Pagan Place. Two of her later works, In the Forest, based on a real-life murder inquiry, and The Little Red Chairs, about a dangerous travelling charlatan modelled on the Balkan war criminal Radovan Karadzic, are amongst her most revered novels. O’Brien has also written numerous short story collections, plays and works of non-fiction, including biographies of James Joyce and Lord Byron.
Girl proves that, even in her 89th year, Edna O’Brien remains one of the greatest living prose stylists. The tale of a girl abducted by Nigerian terrorists, this masterly novel refines O’Brien’s signature concern with the social, sexual and religious oppression of women and speaks keenly to the most relevant issues of modern society.