Actress by Anne Enright

1. First lines. “People ask me, ‘What was she like?'” 2. Published 2020 Penguin 3. Vintage 1950s actress blonde [Public Domain] via Needpix 4. Blue theater stage [CC0] via Peakpix

Born in 1928, Katherine O’Dell is a star of Irish theatre, but in her middle age, she commits a crime that is seen as demented and she is hospitalised. After Katherine dies at the age of 58, her daughter Norah wants to discover the truth about everything her mother kept from her during her life.

“She hated the way they sneered at an Irish accent, the racism, she said was awful. No Blacks No Dogs No Irish that was the sign you saw still around the place. As far as the English were concerned we were all just dirty-lazy-drunk-and-stupid.”

“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 bowl haircut. Beyond me, Katherine O’Dell performs to the unseen crowd. She is dressed in a glittering dark gown, you can not see the edges of her or the shape her figure makes, just the slice of cheekbone, the line of her chin. Her hands are uplifted.”

“… the war was won and it was all marvellous. The town was full of men. Pleasance wore diamante bracelets over white evening gloves and kept her cigarette holder angled high. Hunger kept them slim.”

“You have her eyes. Did anyone ever say that to you?”

~Quotes from “Actress” by Anne Enright.
  • The Guardian:Actress is by no means light reading, but its desolations are offset by diverting writing, garnished with hope.”
  • The Scotsman: “This is not a perfect novel, even, after its early brilliance, a somewhat disappointing one; nevertheless it is always interesting, and for the most part very enjoyable.”

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