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Book 2: House of Splendid Isolation

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 2: House of Splendid Isolation
2 HOUSE OF SPLENDID ISOLATION Edna O'Brien (Ireland, 1994)



A terrorist of the IRA chooses the house of an old and isolated Irish widow to hide. Their relationship gradually develops into a one-of-a-kind friendship as she reflects on her difficult marriage. 

This is a rather short novel - a little over 200 pages - that is not trying to be thorough, but rather to give glimpses of the Irish experience, both on a political level and on a more gender-focused one. Those glimpses are often very poetic, with a dreamlike quality, although there are regular shifts in tones throughout the novel. 
I have to admit I was expecting the two main characters' relationship to develop more slowly. But the policemen, neighbors and relatives were almost as equally central to the novel as the old lady and the terrorist, especially considering what a small book it was.
Overall, the novel was quite post-modern and fragmented, unlike the more conventional Country Girls I read a couple of months ago. Past the surprise, I was fascinated to see how O'Brien grew as a writer and I'm still planning on adding more of her books to my list. 

3/5

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