Perhaps the most fraught of all family relations: mother and daughter. Sometimes the daughter must be the mother's mother. And nurse, and most ardent fan – this is Norah's fate in Anne Enright's intoxicating new novel, "Actress". Norah takes us through her mother's career on stage and in films. A short-lived career, for "in those days, when a woman hit 30, she went home and shut the door". After experimental plays, Katherine O'Dell hits a low point as Ireland's favourite granny in a commercial for butter. Katherine resorts to alcohol and bouts of violence, and Norah picks up the pieces. In spite of all this, and of having to share her mother with a crowd, there is still love. And beyond the family drama, Enright brilliantly evokes the intellectual and political worlds of Ireland in the 20th century.
Participants are requested to read parts of the text at home as preparation for the discussion in class. (Reading the first two short chapters for the first evening would be useful.)