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The story of the legendary Irish actress Katherine O'Dell as told by her daughter. This novel is smart, sympathetic, and casts the kind of spell one imagines the mythical O'Dell would have cast had she been a real person.
Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction
One of Time's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020
“A critique, a confession, a love letter—and another brilliant novel from Anne Enright.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post
Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theater legend. Every moment of her life is a performance, with her daughter, Norah, standing in the wings. With age, alcohol, and dimming stardom, however, Katherine’s grip on reality grows fitful. Fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime.
As Norah’s role gradually changes to Katherine’s protector, caregiver, and finally legacy-keeper, she revisits her mother’s life of fiercely kept secrets; and Norah confronts in turn the secrets of her own sexual and emotional coming-of-age. With virtuosic storytelling, Actress weaves together two generations of women with difficult sexual histories, touching a raw and timely nerve.
About the Author
Anne Enright is the author of six novels, most recently Actress. The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize and The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. She lives in Dublin.
Intoxicating.… Even while laughing at Enright’s wicked mockery, I was moved by the tenderness of her evocation of difficult love. — Mary Gordon - New York Times
Gorgeously written fiction.… Enright’s unflinching portrait… is scrupulously developed and painfully moving. — Wendy Smith - Boston Globe
There is something that seems effortless about Ms. Enright’s writing—an illusion, of course, but one brilliantly sustained. — Sam Sacks - Wall Street Journal
Captivating. — Sara Resnick - The New Yorker
[A] skillfully crafted, emotionally charged novel from an expert practitioner.… Enright has given us another first-rate performance. — Malcolm Forbes - National
A perfect jewel of a book, a dark emerald set in the Irish laureate’s fictional tiara, alongside her Man Booker Prize winner The Gathering (2007) and The Green Road (2015). Its brilliance is complex and multifaceted, but completely lucid.… Actress is a deeply humane, often darkly funny novel about the exercise of power over sexually attractive women. The grim subject matter is illuminated by Enright’s acute sensitivity to language.… Enright proves, once again, her genius.
— Ruth Scurr - Spectator
Out in force. Anne Enright, the unofficial rock star of literary fiction, cements her stardom with Actress.
— Niamh Donnelly - Irish Times
In Katherine O’Dell, her fictional fallen star of stage and screen… Enright has created a heroine as irresistible to the reader as to her audiences.… She has become a byword for contemporary Irish literary fiction at its finest. — Lisa Allardice - Guardian