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The Love Object: Selected Stories (2015)

The Love Object: Selected Stories (2015)

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3.73 of 5 Votes: 2
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0316378267 (ISBN13: 9780316378260)
little, brown and company

About book The Love Object: Selected Stories (2015)

There are eight short stories in The Love Object Stories by Edna O’Brien. The first short story is titled The Love Object. In this story, a divorced woman falls in love with a married man. Their short affair leaves her empty and confused. She wonders if he ever loved her or if she was just a woman he used to pass the time.The Love Object was the longest of all of the short stories. I enjoyed it more than any of the other stories. I pitied the woman (her name is never given) and her empty life. Her two children are off at boarding school for the majority of the year and it seems as if she lives a high society life in London, but doesn’t have any real friends.The second short story in the collection is titled The Outing. Mr. and Mrs. Farley have been married for seventeen years. Their marriage has turned into going to work, coming home to eat, and going to sleep in separate beds. As for love, there isn’t much, if any, left. Mrs. Farley finds a lover who is also unhappy in his marriage. They meet on the streets on Saturdays until one Saturday Mr. Farley goes away for the day. That day, Mrs. Farley’s friend is scheduled to come over to her house so that they can eat together and have some alone time. I liked this short story as well. It wasn’t as long as The Love Object, but was just long enough to keep me interested.The Rug is the third short story in Edna O’Brien’s collection. The short story is written in first person narrative through the eyes of a child living in Ireland, on a farm, with her parents. The story is about what you would assume it to be about, a rug. One day a rug is delivered to the farm by the postman, a rug is just want the mother of the home was yearning for. Assuming someone she knew sent it, and knew about her dreams of a rug, she focuses her energy on figuring out who sent her such a lovely gift.The Mouth of the Cave is next in the collection and it is very short. All I can really describe about it is that a woman is waiting at her home for another woman to come join her for dinner. I really didn’t understand the point of this story. It ended before it even had a chance to start.The fifth short story in this collection is How to Grow a Wisteria. A married couple, who remain nameless, are having marriage problems. The story begins shortly after their wedding day where they move away from civilization and into the mountains; the husband enjoys his solidarity. As their marriage turns into nothing but hellos and goodbyes, the wife decides she wants to move to the city. After moving to the city, the wife tries to invite people over to their apartment to create more friendship in their lives and bring more excitement into their marriage.In Irish Revel, Mary is a seventeen year old living in Ireland with her family. The story is told in third person and is about Mary and the first party she has ever been invited to. After begging her mother to go to the party and wear her fancy dress, she arrives at the party with high expectations. She hopes to find a man she met two years ago at the party, waiting for her, but when she gets there she finds out she was only invited to help out at the party, not actually have fun. I didn’t particularly like this story. There wasn’t anything exciting or page turning about it. It was just a plain story with a plain ending.Cords is the seventh short story in the collection. A mother is going to visit her daughter, Claire, in London. The mother is traveling for the first time, by plane, from Ireland to England. Claire walks to the beat of a different drum and her mother doesn’t fully approve of her lifestyle. One night, earlier on in her mother’s visit, Claire invites friends over. The friends include: a husband, wife, and his mistress; the wife also happens to be pregnant. Her mother is appalled by this trio and thinks even less of her daughter.This story wasn’t bad. I liked it because it was clear and to the point; the ending didn’t keep me yearning for more. Claire’s father was an alcoholic while she was growing up and I can only assume this is why she moved away from her parents in Ireland and started her own life in England, a life completely different from the one she grew up in.Paradise is the eighth and final short story in Edna O’Brien’s collection, The Love Object Stories. Set on an island with mainly nameless people, Iris (the only person named in the story) is courting a man, whom everyone seems to adore. Iris is in love with this man and hopes that he will propose to her. Iris plans the meals for the house on the island and the servants cook the meals; people come and go but Iris and the object of her affection stay the entire time. Iris is also learning how to swim while she is on the island; the rest of the guests find it very strange that she can not swim. This story was definitely the strangest out of all of the short stories in the collection; it was also kind of raunchy.To sum up this entire collection of short stories, I would say they weren’t bad, but they weren’t great. I am curious about why many of the characters didn’t have names in each of the stories. I couldn’t attach myself to the characters for this reason and maybe if they did have names, I would have felt a greater connection to them and their stories. There was a theme of unhappy marriages throughout many of the stories, which made me wonder if Edna O’Brien had an unhappy marriage herself. Each story does revolve around some sort of “love object” as the title of the collection suggests. Some of the love objects are people and some are inanimate objects; some of the love is sexual and some is not.I was introduced to Edna O’Brien’s literature while I was taking an Irish Literature class in college where we read her novel Wild Decembers. I fell in love with her writing and was happy to request and review this collection of short stories. I thought there would be more of an Irish theme to the entire collection, but there wasn’t; many of the stories were not even set in Ireland, which disappointed me.I was given a copy of this e-book in return for an honest review.

I expected great things of Edna O’Brien’s new book, The Love Object: Selected Stories. And she delivers, so I ended up buying the hardcover of this stunning collection as well as the e-book. I prefer her lively early stories, many of which are set in Ireland, to the sophisticated stories that portray women in love with powerful men in London. These heroines are often wispy and forlorn. Yet O’Brien’s writing is always lyrical and sensual, and her development of characters is rich. This collection of 31 stories, written between 1968 and 2011, is a classic.In “Sister Imelda,” two characters from O’Brien’s charming 1960s trilogy, The Country Girls, are resurrected (or perhaps born?). I love the voices of Caithleen, the narrator, and her rebellious friend, Baba. When they return after the summer to their convent school, they are surprised that a pretty nun with flashing eyes is teaching geometry and home-ec. Why would someone so attractive be a nun?O’Brien has a gift for comedy, and Caithleen is a hilarious narrator."She was a right lunatic, then, Baba said, having gone to university for four years and willingly come back to incarceration, to poverty. We concocted scenes of agony in some Dublin hostel, while a boy, or even a young man, stood beneath her bedroom window throwing up chunks of clay or whistles or a supplication."Geometry is Caithleen’s worst subject, and Sister Imelda becomes so irritated that she throws a duster at her. But she gives her a holy card after she loses her temper, and soon there is a strong attachment between the two.Sister Imelda pursues the friendship too intensely, and one pities Caithleen, stuck in a girls’ school. At the end of the year, Sister Imelda believes Caithleen will return and become a nun, but Caithleen flees and never writes her a letter. (We are much relieved.) A few years later, she and Baba pretend not to see Sister Imelda on the bus.O’Brien is eclectic. She is adept at comedy, but she she can make it realistic or surreal. In two short stories about the character, Mrs. Reinhardt, O’Brien proves her mettle.In “Number Ten,” Mrs. Reinhard “sleepwalks” and has a secret dream life. O’Brien begins,"Everything began to be better for Mrs. Reinhardt when she started to sleepwalk."The pictures she sees in her dreams are more compelling than those in her husband’s art gallery. One day she is sorting laundry and finds a little golden key in the pocket of her husband’s seersucker jacket. Soon she “sleepwalks” into a taxi and goes to a mews house, Number Ten, which turns out to be her ideal house, especially the bedroom. But Mrs. Reinhardt’s interpretation of the dream/sleepwalking may be different from the reader’s. What really is Number Ten? We have our suspicions.In “Mrs. Reinhardt,” the heroine has separated from her husband, who is having an affair with a younger woman. At a beautiful hotel, she cries and misses her husband, but enjoys the gorgeous scenery, walks in the woods, and unwisely wears her expensive necklace in the dining room. O’Brien connects this story to “Number Ten” by saying she was “like a sleepwalker ”After a brief affair with a handsome man she meets in the woods, she panics (and, I might add, so would we). She has difficulty surviving on her own. But, lo and behold, it is a comedy and has a happy endingIn “Paradise,” a beautiful young woman becomes involved with a millionaire who has a villa on the Mediterranean. She enjoys the luxury, the beautiful view of the harbor, and the tranquility of the household created by servants. (She takes tranquilizers, too.) But there is a problem: the guests are snobbish about her inability to swim. And so her lover, who is equally appalled, extravagantly hires an English swimming instructor. As she fearfully learns to swim, something happens: she begins to feel disconnected from the man and his guests.In the title story, “The Love Object,”a young woman meets a married lawyer at a party. Going to bed with him is bliss, but he is not often available. He calls the shots, and at one point they break up. But the heroine has strong needs. Will she keep away from him?O’Brien is a prolific but extremely accomplished writer, and I savored each of the 31 stories. This collection is truly a classic, and I can’t say that about many modern books.

Do You like book The Love Object: Selected Stories (2015)?

I haven't read anything from Edna O'Brien so I was interested to get to read some of the stories! BlurbCollected here together for the first time in one beautiful volume are the stories of an expert practitioner of the shorter form. Spanning five decades of writing, The Love Object takes the most memorable and successful stories from collections like A Scandalous Woman and Saints and Sinners; stories such as 'Shovel Kings', 'Irish Revel', 'Lantern Slides' and 'Paradise' that have bewitched generation after generation.Referred to in the New York Review of Books by Harold Bloom as 'the short story master', Edna O'Brien's stories are a cumulative portrait of a nation, seen from within and without. Here you will find stories about families, feuds, love and land; enchantment, disenchantment, and throughout, the manifold bonds of love. Here are stories about the tension between country and city life, the instinct towards escape and nostalgia for home; and always the shimmering, potent prose.I didn't have a favorite story and I found myself skipping through a few of them because I just couldn't get into them. The stories are well written but I couldn't get into a lot of them. *I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway*

O'Brien explores women's experiences with love: genuine, familial, and unrequited love, with some unhealthy infatuation in the mix as well. The highs and lows of each relationship she explores extend from a foundation of resignation or pending doom. Everything is under the surface - there aren't a lot of verbs, plot twists, or cliffhangers to drive the reader forward. Not a lot happenes outside of the protagonist's head. It's not a style I typically like, but O'Brien's prose held me through the last page. Highly recommended.

Supple, sensual, heartbreaking, truthful, lyrical, musical - I find O'Brien's work amazing. This anthology, collected from her writing over many years, shows her spunk, wit, nerve, memory, focus, and sense of smell and sight and sound and feel.Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, religious fury and frenzy, couplings of all sorts, a bit of political/sociological concern, the yearnings for so much for self and country and church and faith.I so loved so many stories, but won't go blow by blow.Suffice it to say that Edna O'Brien is a masterful storyteller.And suffice it to say that the stories reveal and revel in hard times and hard tales and hard awakenings and deaths.And what is the object of love? God? Man? Land? Class? Escape? Connection? One simple hand, up or down?
—Susan Emmet

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