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
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2001, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2002, 544 pages

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Book Summary

A captivating work that explores the extremes of passion, the depths of loneliness, and the resilience of the human heart. By the author of the number-one New York Times bestseller Are You Somebody?

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 ...

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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 ...
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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

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

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

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.

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