Skip to main content

Review: Mary O'Grady, by Mary Lavin


Pages: 391
Original date of publication: 1950
My edition: 1986 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: AV/AA
How I acquired my copy: bookshop near work, August 2011

Mary O’Grady is the story of one woman and her family during roughly the first half of the 20th century. The novel opens with her marriage to Tom and move to Dublin from her native Tullamore, and the birth of Mary’s 5 children—Patrick, Ellie, Angie, Larry, and Rosie.

I found it kind of hard to like the main character sometimes. She’s so concerned with her children that there’s very little introspection. She doesn’t have time to think because she’s so busy thinking about other people; so our perception of Mary is colored by her children’s opinions of her. Because of her stifling, it’s hard for her children to gain independence—which is exactly why they flee from her—Patrick to America, Larry to the priesthood, etc. So this is mostly a domestic novel; in fact, with the exception of one or two scenes that take place outdoors, most of the action takes place inside. Therefore there’s a kind of claustrophobic feeling to the novel.

The character development of the novel is a little strange, too; for example, either the characters keep thinking that Rosie is younger than she actually is and treat her that way, or the author kept forgetting, because the timeline was a little bit off. The novel is divided into sections that focus on one member of the family or a couple, but I thought that the novel’s physical structure this way was a little bit scattered. Also, the ending was a little bit sketchy; I kept thinking that the author was trying to cram in as much plot and information in as she could. I’m not sure that this novel is my favorite that Virago have published, but the subject matter just wasn’t my cup of tea.


Comments

MoniqueReads said…
Sorry you did not enjoy this one more. Better luck with the next one.

Happy Reading
I haven't read 'Mary O'Grady' yet, but I think I'll put it off a little while longer. I have read some of Mary Lavin's other work, and liked it well enough. I particularly like 'A Wet Day,' and I'm glad my Irish Lit. course introduced me to some of these writers - I probably never would have found her work if it weren't for that. I wrote a blog post on Lavin's 'The Will' and Edna O'Brien's 'The Creature' recently - have you read anything by Edna O'Brien? If you'd like to read my thoughts, the post can be found at this address:

http://www.LearningandWriting.com/1/post/2013/03/lavin-and-obrien1.html

Thanks :)
Elissa.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…