Lit , Fiction Kate O'Brien Talk of Angels

ISBN 13: 9780786861910

Talk of Angels

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9780786861910: Talk of Angels

Reissued to coincide with the release of the movie version, a controversial novel, banned in Ireland in 1936 for its frank depiction of lesbianism, follows an Irish woman who becomes involved with a fellow expatriate in Spain. Movie tie-in.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The skilled prose of Irish author O'Brien (18971974) transmutes the material of a conventional coming-of-age tale (``banned in Ireland in 1936 for its frank depiction of lesbianism'') into a rich, absorbing study of character and culture. It's 1922, and Mary Lavelle, the 22-year-old daughter of a widowed doctor in Ireland, is quiet and seemingly conventional, yet she has two qualities that are bound to attract notice: her startling beauty and her yearning to become an independent wanderer. Mary is engaged to nice-but-dull John MacCurtain, a demobilized soldier now working as shipping clerk. John cautiously insists on waiting for marriage until he has a good income, and so Mary, feeling fondness but no great ardor for her fianc‚, decides to make use of the time to become a governess in Spain--a then traditional occupation for rootless Irishwomen. She finds work tutoring the daughters of a family headed by the aristocratic Don Pablo Areavaga, whose marriage--complicated, sexless, but not unloving--is explored in depth. Despite initial homesickness, Mary soon takes to her charges, who include the vain, gregarious Pilar and the spirited, amusingly precocious Milagros. With her youth and looks, their new governess provokes comment in the spinsterish community of Irish ``misses,'' but she nevertheless finds friends in Rosie O'Toole, a spunky eccentric, and Agatha Conlon, an austere, mysterious semi-recluse. As Mary develops a taste for bullfights and an infatuation with Spain in general, she comes to find answering John's daily letters a chore. Events reach a crisis when she meets Don Pablo's married son, Juanito--while, at the same time, Agatha is developing her own illicit passion for Mary. Passive and impressionable Mary is sometimes a frustrating heroine, but O'Brien writes with a striking grace and acuity that illuminate not only the landscape of but the complexity of the people living in it. (Film rights to Miramax) -- Copyright 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

When this novel was first published in Ireland in 1936, it caused a sensation because of its "frank depiction of lesbianism." Amazing! Those reluctant to note progress in combating homophobia need only read this novel to realize how far we have come. Melodramatic, overwritten, and sexually tame by contemporary standards, the book charts the course of Mary Lavelle, an Irish beauty looking for adventure before settling into marriage. As nanny and English teacher for three pampered Spanish girls, Mary tastes independence and unleashes her skepticism about conventional social mores. Yet, in the end, Talk of Angels tells a very old story about a woman punished for her audacity. Beloved Irish author O'Brien offers a compassionate portrait of young, working-class women, but her allusions to needed social changes pose no real challenge to sexism, racism, classism, or heterosexism. Recommended as historical artifact.?Eleanor J. Bader, New Sch. for Social Research, New York,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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