Actress: A Novel By Anne Enright Cover Image
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One of the Wall Street Journal's 10 Best Books of 2020

One of Time's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020

A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction in 2020

Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction

A brilliant and moving novel about celebrity, sexual power, and a daughter’s search to understand her mother’s hidden truths.

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 performance, 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, Katherine’s grip on reality grows fitful. Fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime.

As Norah’s role gradually changes to Katherine’s protector, caregiver, and finally legacy-keeper, she revisits her mother’s life of fiercely kept secrets; and Norah reveals in turn the secrets of her own sexual and emotional coming-of-age story. Her narrative is shaped by three braided searches—for her father’s identity; for her mother’s motive in donning a Chanel suit one morning and shooting a TV producer in the foot; and her own search for a husband, family, and work she loves.

Bringing to life two generations of women with difficult sexual histories, both assaulted and silenced, both finding—or failing to find—their powers of recovery, Actress touches a raw and timely nerve. With virtuosic storytelling and in prose at turns lyrical and knife-sharp, Enright takes readers to the heart of the maddening yet tender love that binds a mother and daughter.

About the Author

Anne Enright is author of seven novels, most recently Actress. She has been awarded the Man Booker Prize, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Book Awards. She lives in Dublin.

Praise For…

Anne Enright writes so well that she just might ruin you for anyone else…Stripped raw of any sentimentality, the result is a critique, a confession, a love letter—and another brilliant novel from Anne Enright.
— Ron Charles - Washington Post

Gorgeously written fiction…Enright’s unflinching portrait…is scrupulously developed and painfully moving.
— Wendy Smith - Boston Globe

There is something that seems effortless about Ms. Enright’s writing—an illusion, of course, but one brilliantly sustained.
— Sam Sacks - Wall Street Journal

— Sara Resnick - The New Yorker

— Mary Gordon - New York Times

Another triumph for Enright: a confluence of lyrical prose, immediacy, warmth, and emotional insight.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Enright’s indelible images of the primal love between mother and daughter that ebbs, flows, and ultimately abides will stick with readers.
— Booklist (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324005629
ISBN-10: 1324005629
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2020
Pages: 272
Language: English