In 1996, a small Irish press approached Nuala O'Faolain, then a writer for the Irish Times newspaper, to publish a collection of her opinion columns. She offered to write an introduction to give the opinions a context - to explain the life experience that had shaped this Irish woman's views - and, convinced that none but a few diehard fans of the columns would ever see the book, she took the opportunity to interrogate herself, as fully and candidly as she could, as to what she had made of her life. But the introduction, the 'accidental memoir of a Dublin woman', was discovered, and 'Are You Somebody?' became an international bestseller. It launched a new life for its author at a time when she had long let go of expectations that anything could dislodge patterns of regret and solitude well fixed and too familiar.
Suddenly in mid-life there was the possibility of radical change. Whereas the memoir ended with its author reconciled to a peaceful if lonely future, now opportunities opened up, and there were thrilling choices to make - choices that forced her to address the question of how to live a better life herself and, therefore, of what makes any life better.
This memoir begins at the moment when O'Faolain's life began to change, and its both tells the story of life in the subtle, radical, and, above all, unforeseen renewal, and meditates on that story. It is on one level a tale of good fortune chasing out bad - of an accidental harvest of happiness. But it is also a provocative examination of one woman's experience of 'the crucible of middle age' - a time of life that faces in two directions, forging the shape of the years to come, and clarifying and solidifying one's relationships to friends and lovers (past and present), family and self.
Fiercely intelligent, hilarious, moving, generous, and full of surprises, this book is a crystalline reflections of a singular character, utterly engaged in life!
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