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Actress

Narrated by: Anne Enright
Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.50

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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

From the Booker-winning Irish author, a brilliant and moving novel about fame, sexual power and a daughter’s search to understand her mother’s hidden truths.

This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings.

But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime.

Actress is about a daughter’s search for the truth: the dark secret in the bright star, and what drove Katherine finally mad.

Brilliantly capturing the glamour of post-war America and the shabbiness of 1970s Dublin, Actress is an intensely moving, disturbing novel about mothers and daughters and the men in their lives. A scintillating examination of the corrosive nature of celebrity, it is also a sad and triumphant tale of freedom from bad love, and from the avid gaze of the crowd.

©2020 Anne Enright (P)2020 Penguin Audio
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Mother protector

Very sad. But honestly written with an irish charm and worldly appraisal that all can relate to.

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A mind set to language

It's just that you don't know where the line, the boarder, the transition between the uniqueness of the insight and the sheer delight of the words used is and it strikes me as so unsettlingly beautiful to not know. Some truly remarkable sentences rendering observations profound in how the author positions one to see the consciousness of a person. I want to go and read it now so I can see how the words look on the page.

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Sublime!

The characters are so authentically created that the story seems to blur the lines between biography and fiction. So much rich and nuanced detail that I am in awe of the imagination and skilful writing that drew me into their world and made me forget that this was make believe. Add Anne Enright’s fantastic narration and I think it is one of the best audiobook experiences I’ve had in a while. This is being added to my list of Favourite Books right now!

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  • Book Groupie
  • 23-02-2020

Wry, humane, beautifully read by author

Anne Enright creates a completely believable Maureen O’Hara type character and world. It helps the enjoyment if you know Dublin slightly, but no matter if you don’t. It’s as good as Anne Enright’s recent The Green Road, if not better.

5 people found this helpful

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  • theonewhogotaway
  • 30-03-2020

standing ovation

A remarkable character study and an unforgettable story about a mother-daughter relationship that, in Anne's inimitable style, casts an unsentimental yet deeply empathetic eye on the vulnerabilities and resiliences that make us human. An exceptional writer with a rare gift at evoking time and place - and an eye for peculiar or distinctive detail that makes you feel you've just found words for things you've always known but never named.
It look me a little while to get used to her reading voice but I warmed to it very much. There were times though in the earlier part when I found it hard to make out certain words in the lower register and needed to adjust volume a bit.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ian McGonagle
  • 30-05-2020

Brilliant

loved it. loved the author reading it too. she is so good at getting underneath a family and relationships.who is the actress in this book? for me there was more than one! it is brilliant and highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • ClareR
  • 21-05-2020

A new go to author!

Actress is the story of Katherine O’Dell, told by her daughter. She looks back on her mother’s career as Ireland’s darling, as she works her way up through Ireland’s bus-and-truck circuit, London’s West End , Broadway and finally Hollywood. Norah lives through the more successful period of her mothers life, and then has to deal with her fall from Grace after she commits a thoroughly bizarre crime. I really loved this book, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was in fact fiction. The author, Anne Enright, read her book, and she did it so well. It really sounded like someone who was telling their own life story, as opposed to telling ‘a’ story. It was really immersive and well told. I’m not surprised that it was on the long list for the Women’s Prize 2020.

I loved the way that we watched Katherine’s slide into mental health problems through the eyes of her daughter, juxtaposed with the life that she had lived before - the whole bohemian, free living, carelessness of it. And then the reveal that all was not as it seemed. I enjoy books that explore family relationships - in fiction the opportunities are endless.

I really liked the historical element as well: the troubles in Ireland and how they impacted on Katherine and Norah. Not that it’s an enjoyable topic, but I have family connections, and the history of this fascinates me. To be honest, a lot of things impact on the relationship of this mother and daughter. It must have been very difficult for Norah to grow up in the way that she did - and again, I have to remind myself that this isn’t a true story!

This is the first Anne Enright novel that I’ve read/ listened to, and I have another book of hers on my bookcase that I’ll be moving up the ‘to be read’ pile. I think she’s an author that I’ll also be adding to me ‘read everything by them’ list!

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  • Earnest
  • 14-04-2020

Listen to this.

Everything one might want from a story, a performer and a human being.
Remarkable resonance in every way.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-06-2020

Only an Irishwoman could read this book so authentically

It was like listening to a one way conversation. I read the book first and the audible was a perfect adjunct. Bits I missed in the book I got in the audible. Anne doesn’t have the melodious tones of fiona Shaw but she knows how to make her own book resonate.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-06-2020

Not disappointed

So well written, entertaining and such a pleasure to hear/read. Particularly enjoyed the fact that Anne, herself read it on audio.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-06-2020

superb

beautiful story. so Irish and familiar. incredibly read. I could listen to Anne read the phone book!

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  • E Hinchliffe
  • 04-06-2020

Great story, great performance

Loved this, but found it hard to understand it was not an autobiography! Beautifully, and convincingly written

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  • Ms K Esslemont
  • 29-05-2020

Lyrical story beautifully read

The perfect lockdown listen. The slowly laid out story of an actress’ life narrated by her daughter who reflects on her own life development as she considers her mother.
Anne Enright reads it beautifully.
Highly recommended.