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Review: Are You Somebody by Nuala O'Faolain


Nuala O'Faolain attracted a huge amount of critical praise and a wide audience with the literary debut of "Are You Somebody?" Her midlife exploration of life's love, pain, loneliness, and self- discovery won her fans worldwide who write and tell her how her story has changed their lives. There are thousands who have yet to discover this extraordinary memoir of an Irish woman who has stepped away from the traditional roles to define herself and find contentment. They will make this paperback a long-selling classic.


I must admit, as much as this novel appealed to me, I was worried it would become dry and uninteresting, thankfully my assumptions were proven to be untrue. My interest stemmed from my own ties to Ireland, which are a little more distant than the character Nuala, my roots are placed in Northern Ireland.

Are You Somebody? by Nuala O’Faolain may be the truest memoir I have ever read. There was no detailed spared in the retelling of her life. The good, and frankly quite a lot of bad, were written in the pages giving the reader a true look into the life of Nuala and many other women growing up in Ireland in this time period.

I was captivated reading her life story and was in a constant state of awe that she was capable in writing and reliving some of her worst memories. Although it may sound horrible, I enjoyed reading about the oppression happening in her lifetime towards women. The lack of independence they had compared to now as well as the morals they were expected to uphold. Women’s rights were slowly evolving through the novel, and I loved to see Nuala, and others she mentioned, overcome this sort of oppression to become their own person no matter what family mold was trying to stop them.

Are You Somebody? Generates respect from the readers. Nuala endured terrible times but her perseverance, no matter the slip ups she may have had, is the admirable quality. I particularly enjoyed the bits she included about her education and some of the literary works that inspired her.

I would recommend picking up a copy of Are You Somebody? If you possess an interest in Irish history, women’s rights in Ireland or if you are like me and used this as a tool to better understand what some of your relatives may have gone through in this time period.

Reviewed by Rachel Keane

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Second Edition edition (February 17, 2009)

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