It is the early 1960s in a country village in Ireland. Caithleen Brady and her attractive friend, Baba, are on the verge of womanhood and dreaming of spreading their wings in a wider world - of discovering love and luxury and liquor and above all, fun. With bawdy innocence, shrewd for all their inexperience, the girls romp their way through convent school to the bright lights of Dublin – where Caithleen finds that suave, idealised lovers rarely survive the real world.
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Caithleen and Baba, first encountered in The Country Girls, are now living in Dublin, where they discuss men, drink gin, and try to look fast. Cait, in the pursuit of true love, becomes involved with the fanatically domineering Eugene Gaillard. Painful disillusion and occasional moments of bliss in her life make this a bittersweet tale, and it is told with all the perception and wit that is the hallmark of Edna O’Brien.
Kate and Baba are in London, playing out the tragicomedy of their married lives to its surprisingly level-headed conclusion. Kate, feeling trapped in her grey stone house with her increasingly cold husband, tearfully looks for her dreams of romance elsewhere. And when Eugene takes terrible, implacable revenge, she naturally turns to her brazen friend Baba for help.