cover image Actress


Anne Enright. Norton, $27 (264p) ISBN 978-1-324-00562-9

This evocative, incisive tale from Man Booker–winner Enright (The Gathering) turns a gimlet eye on the complicated relationship between a famous mother and her only daughter. Actor Katherine O’Dell is known throughout Ireland in the 1970s and ’80s; she is also a loving—if distracted and sometimes absent—single mother to Norah, who’s often left in the care of her nanny. Norah, who narrates, recounts mainly through flashback Katherine’s star rising from humble beginnings in a traveling Irish theater troupe to her peak in Hollywood, where she increasingly struggles with alcoholism and depression. As Katherine enters her 50s, it largely falls to Norah to care for her mother, but when Katherine is committed to a mental hospital after shooting a movie producer in the foot, Norah finds professional help to care for her mother, as Norah marries, has children, and pursues her writing career. Enright portrays her characters with tenderness and grace (“It took me no time to adjust after she came home from hospital. And I don’t know what I loved, as I tended her fragile bones, but I thought I loved my mother. Because she was always the same person for me”), depicting a fraught mother-daughter relationship without cliché or condescension. Enright’s fans will love this sharp, moving work. (Mar.)