book blog · Book Review

Book Review | Actress by Anne Enright… fame from the eyes of a daughter


Release Date: February 2020
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 272 Pages
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

Anne Enright is a new to me author. I’d definitely heard of her before, probably because she’s a previous winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, but Actress is the first book of hers I’ve read. Actress has become Enright’s second longlisted book for the Women’s Prize, I don’t predict it will get any further.

Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theater legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother’s celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mother’s and her own.

Katherine began her career on Ireland’s bus-and-truck circuit before making it to London’s West End, Broadway, and finally Hollywood. Every moment of her life is a star turn, with young Norah standing in the wings. But the mother-daughter romance cannot survive Katherine’s past or the world’s damage. With age, alcohol, and dimming stardom, her grip on reality grows fitful and, fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime.

Her mother’s protector, Norah understands the destructive love that binds an actress to her audience, but also the strength that an actress takes from her art. Once the victim of a haunting crime herself, Norah eventually becomes a writer, wife, and mother, finding her way to her own hard-won joy. Actress is a book about the freedom we find in our work and in the love we make and keep.

Fame is something that fascinates everyone, that is something Norah, daughter of theater legend Katherine O’Dell, is sure of. Over the years since her mothers death she’s been contacted by curious journalists and writers wanting the scoop on her mothers story of going from world-wide fame, to a mental institution.

The characters just didn’t capture me at all. I felt weirdly disconnected from them which made me really not care about the story. I didn’t feel for them and I never really felt I knew them.

I just didn’t connect with Enright’s writing and I probably won’t be picking up another of her books. The timeline just felt so jumbled which confused me and caused me to feel disengaged from the story.

Favourite Quote

“she was never happy. She was eaten alive by people like you, Holly Devane. She was never happy. But she put on a damn fine show,”

Anne Enright, Actress

Would I Read Again? No
Would I Recommend? I may not have enjoyed this but I have seen some glowing reviews from others. If it sounds like your thing, give it a try!

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X