Summary and book reviews of My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain

My Dream of You

By Nuala O'Faolain

My Dream of You
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Feb 2001,
    528 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2002,
    544 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Hailed by critics ("A beautiful exploration of human loneliness and happiness, of contentment and longing," wrote Alice McDermott in The Washington Post) and embraced by legions of readers, Nuala O'Faolain's memoir Are You Somebody? introduced a writer of exceptional insight, honesty, and compassion. These same gifts are evident in O'Faolain's grand first novel that tells of parallel lives, one hundred fifty years apart, driven by a hunger for passionate love.

My Dream of You is the story of Kathleen de Burca, an Irish woman based in London, a travel writer who crisscrosses the globe. She is a woman on the run until a quick series of blows, on the eve of a milestone birthday, stops her cold -- revealing the painful cost of her refugee existence and the encroaching despair that the love she believed would deliver her might never come. And still, she feels, her heart is ridiculously alive.

And so it is to passion that Kathleen turns when she sets out for Ireland to investigate the true story of a scandalous affair between the wife of an English landlord and an Irish servant during the latter years of the Famine. Between the lines of the historical record and through a reconsideration of the family she fled so long ago, Kathleen attempts to understand how it is that even in the face of adversity love can prevail and even with love families can be torn apart. During her time in the country, she encounters a lover of her own who helps her to know her own heart and presents her with an ultimate choice that, like the one made by her nineteenth-century lovers, promises to alter the course of her life.

My Dream of You is a singular achievement: a feeling and captivating work that explores the extremes of passion, the depths of loneliness, and the resilience of the human heart.

Chapter 1

By the time I was middle-aged I was well defended against crisis, if it came from outside. I had kept my life even and dry for a long time. I'd been the tenant of a dim basement, half-buried at the back of the Euston Road, for more than twenty years. I didn't like London particularly, except for the TravelWrite office, but I didn't see much of it. Jimmy and I, who were the main writers for the travel section of the NewsWrite syndicate, were on the move all the time. We were never what you'd call explorers; we never went anywhere near war or hunger or even discomfort. And we wrote about every place we went to in a cheerful way: that was the house rule. But we had a good boss. Even if it was the fifth "Paris in Springtime" or the third "Sri Lanka: Isle of Spices," Alex wouldn't let us get away with tired writing. Sometimes Jimmy accused him of foolish perfectionism, because every TravelWrite piece was bought immediately anyway. But having to please Alex was good for us. And ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
What gives a life meaning? How is love found? Nuala O'Faolain, noted Irish Times columnist, took on these questions with striking intimacy and candor in her bestselling and acclaimed memoir, Are You Somebody? Hailed as "a beautiful exploration of human loneliness and happiness, of contentment and longing" (Alice McDermott, The Washington Post), the book struck a chord with legions of readers on both sides of the Atlantic and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. My Dream of You followed her memoir's path, hitting bestseller lists around the world and confirming O'Faolain's remarkable gifts as a writer.

Set in Ireland and spanning a century-and-a-half, My Dream of You unfolds the compelling stories of two women and ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal

The gossamer plot is forgivable because O'Faolain has infused her protagonist with such perfectly flawed humanity. The Irish Times columnist can, and will, do better work, but this novel-within-a-historical-novella merits purchase all the same.

Publisher's Weekly

The humor, honesty and moral seriousness ... surpasses any historical recitation of the facts.

Reader Reviews
Heather Nelson

I finished My Dream of You just two weeks ago, and I still find myself thinking about it ALL the time. It is extremely powerful, and having visited Ireland for the first time two years ago after dreaming of the country most of my adult life.....the ...   Read More

Martha Mooney Waltien

It has been six months, now, since I read "My Dream of You", but I found the book to be beautifully written, elegant, beautifully crafted and one that you wish would go on and on. This is a truly great writer (an Irishwoman) and I also ...   Read More

fran mitchell

There needs to be a way that good writers can transit from one time period to another and then back again to the now. That transition could be only a phrase or a melody but not the "jolt" that leaves a reader groping for the year and sense...   Read More

Anonymous
Karla Powell
Good book if you can keep different thoughts of the author together. She switches quite often to different thoughts in the book. Sad, somewhat depressing, of a lonely woman trying to find herself.
It was o.k.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked My Dream of You, try these:

  • Half Broken Things jacket

    Half Broken Things

    by Morag Joss

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A stunning, thought-provoking crime novel of chilling moral complexity. A gripping, haunting exploration of love and our need for it, of the damage done when we go long without it, and the deeds we might be driven to in its name.

  • Ireland jacket

    Ireland

    by Frank Delaney

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    From a land famous for storytelling comes an epic novel that captures the intimate, passionate texture of the Irish spirit.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.