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My Dream Of You    by Nuala O'Faolain order for
My Dream Of You
by Nuala O'Faolain
Order:  USA  Can
Riverhead, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Irish Kathleen de Burca, a travel writer for a London based magazine, has returned to the country of her birth to research material for a book she plans to write on a divorce trial in Dublin in 1848. She has not been home for twenty years. This wonderful book delves into Kathleen's inner soul as she tries to understand herself, and her proclivity for going to bed with almost anyone as the easy way out of situations. As facts mount both for and against the defendant in the trial, Kathleen struggles with parallels in her own life.

The time of the trial is the same time of the terrible Famine, when the Irish ate even grass in their struggle to stay alive. Their potatoes, the mainstay of the diet of the poor at that time, were rotting in the fields. The trial and the famine are intertwined and difficult to separate. The despair the starving felt when they were forced to realize there was no help coming parallels the despair Kathleen feels on reading of the famine. In researching the divorce trial, Kathleen comes to grips with what it is to be Irish. And more importantly, with what it is to be herself.

My Dream Of You is a powerful book, beautifully written, proving that we are never too old to learn from our own mistakes and from the follies of others. The author weaves the mists of Ireland into her magnetic story. I gave myself up to it the first page and felt sorrow to have to say goodbye to Kathleen at the end. Nuala O'Faolain writes with great sensitivity; a love of Ireland in her very words and an understanding, but not censorious, knowledge of human nature.

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