Houghton Mifflin Company, $24, 259 pp.
Born in 1936 on a farm in rural Ireland, Edna O’Brien married at sixteen and fled to London, where she has lived ever since. Like James Joyce, whose biography she has written for the Penguin Lives series, she speaks of writing as a calling that forced her to live in self-imposed exile-but Ireland remained the muse, as it did for Joyce. O’Brien returns in novel after novel to the source-the melancholic spirit, hard-bitten loyalties, and...
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