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

book blog · Book Prize

Initial Thoughts On The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2020 Longlist! I’ve got a lot of reading to do…

This Years Longlist!

Hi Readers!

Well this is a post I’m very excited to be writing and sharing with you. The Women’s Prize longlist was finally announced last night! Now my plan was to stay up for midnight and do my reaction then but I made the mistake of just ‘closing my eyes’ for a second at 23:30pm and didn’t see the world again until 6am. Oops.

But it’s fine, we’re here now and the longlist has been released. And boy is it an exciting one. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to get to reading this prize’s longlist. This years judges have picked some amazing books!

My Predictions | How Did I Do?

Just like the past couple of years I’ve tried to predict what books will be on the longlist. This year was my most successful guesses yet! Out of the 16 books on the longlist I predicted 7 of them. I had heard of three others and there are 6 books on the longlist that are new to me.

What’s Missing | Books I Wish Had Made the Longlist

Of course the judges can’t please everyone. There are just 16 spaces on the longlist and there are always going to be books deserving of a spot that just didn’t make it.

There’s two books I personally would’ve liked to have seen on the longlist. Long Bright River by Liz Moore and FrankissStein by Jeanette Winterson. But saying that I’m excited to see so many books on the longlist I haven’t yet read. I never protest to adding more books to my TBR.

There’s also the notable absence of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. But I’m not upset about that to be honest. It’s already had a lot of coverage and I think Atwood would agree it’s good to give another author a spot on this list.

How Many Have I Already Read?

Three. So… I have a lot of reading to do! I do of course plan on reading the entire longlist and 6 of those books were already on my immediate TBR anyway.

The Longlist!

For those who haven’t seen the longlist yet, here it is! How many of these books have you read/are planning on reading?

  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • Girl by Edna O’ Brien
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

In this years longlist we have three past winners, Patchett’s The Dutch House, Mantel’s anticipated The Mirror and the Light & Enright’s Actress. But they have strong competition from Evaristo, co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize with her multi-perspective book Girl, Woman, Other.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for O’Brien’s Girl and one I’m particularly excited about is Haynes’s greek myth feminist retelling A Thousand Ships. I’m also intrigued by Red At the Bone. Woodson is an author I’ve heard of but never read before so I’m excited to finally give her a go.

We also have some amazing debuts with Carty-Williams’s modern Queenie, O’Farrell’s Shakespearean Hamnet and Anappara’s India set Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

The other authors and books are completely new to me but that’s what I love about this prize. It brings new authors and voices onto my radar. I’m especially intrigued by Dominicana and How We Disappeared.

What books are you most excited to get to?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X