The Lives of Women

The Lives of Women

Christine Dwyer Hickey / Sep 21, 2020
The Lives of Women Following a long absence spent in New York Elaine Nichols returns to her childhood home to live with her invalid father and his geriatric Alsatian dog The house backing on to theirs is sold and as sh
  • Title: The Lives of Women
  • Author: Christine Dwyer Hickey
  • ISBN: 9781782390053
  • Page: 198
  • Format: Paperback
  • Following a long absence spent in New York, Elaine Nichols returns to her childhood home to live with her invalid father and his geriatric Alsatian dog The house backing on to theirs is sold and as she watches the old furniture being removed, she is taken back to a summer in the 1970 s when she was almost sixteen and this small out of town estate was an enclave for womenFollowing a long absence spent in New York, Elaine Nichols returns to her childhood home to live with her invalid father and his geriatric Alsatian dog The house backing on to theirs is sold and as she watches the old furniture being removed, she is taken back to a summer in the 1970 s when she was almost sixteen and this small out of town estate was an enclave for women and children while the men are mysterious shadows who leave every day for the outside world.The women are isolated but keep their loneliness and frustrations hidden behind a veneer of suburban respectability When an American divorcee and her daughter move into the estate this veneer begins to crack The women learn how to socialise, how to drink martinis, how to care less about their wifely and maternal duties.While the women are distracted, Elaine and her friends find their own entry into the adult world The result is a tragic event that will mark the rest of Elaine s life and be the cause of her long and guilt ridden exile.Insightful and full of suspense, this is an uncompromising portrayal of the suburbs and the cruelties brought about by the demands of respectability.
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      Christine Dwyer Hickey

    About "Christine Dwyer Hickey"

      • Christine Dwyer Hickey

        Christine Dwyer Hickey is a novelist and short story writer Her novel Tatty was short listed for Irish Book of the Year in 2005 and was also long listed for The Orange Prize Her novels, The Dancer, The Gambler and The Gatemaker were re issued in 2006 as The Dublin Trilogy three novels which span the story of a Dublin family from 1913 to 1956.Twice winner of the Listowel Writers Week short story competition, she was also a prize winner in the Observer Penguin short story competition Her latest novel, Last Train from Liguria, is set in 1930 s Fascist Italy and Dublin in the 1990 s and will be published in June 2009.


    1. Set in a Dublin suburb, the book spans several decades The woman at the center of the story is Elaine Nichols who leaves home as a teen, and returns from New York as a woman in her early 50 s She comes home to care for her elderly father, a wheelchair bound former judge.In this novel, suburbia is a desert, a place devoid of life, culture, and joy We don t learn many details of Elaine s life until the last 25 or so pages She has had a career, but a lonely life There is a sense at the end of the b [...]

    2. I was given a review copy by the publishers after showing an interest I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting and it definitely lived up to my expectations.This is in a sense a coming of age novel, but it is also a retrospective We are introduced to the character of Elaine who has returned to her family home to care for her father, after the death of her mother We are made aware that Elaine hasn t been home for quite a while, and hasn t had much contact with them either because of [...]

    3. Christine Dwyer Hickey may possibly be Ireland s most under rated writer She s written seven novels I ve read the oh so brilliant but heart breaking Tatty and the inventive award winning The Cold Eye of Heaven as well as a short story collection and a newly published play.The Lives of Women, her latest novel, is right up there with my favourite reads of the year so far It s the kind of book that hooks you right from the start and then keeps you on tenterhooks throughout I started reading it on a [...]

    4. Elaine, dispatched in haste to New York in the wake of an unspecified scandal when she was sixteen, returns home to Ireland for the first, for her mother s funeral thirty years on The chapters alternate between then and now, and the story of her teenage years in the suburbs unfolds.Christine Dwyer Hickey shows as always, her gift for examining dysfunctional family life, missed chances, suppressed emotion, loveless marriages, pressure of keeping up appearances, lack of forgiveness and of course t [...]

    5. 3.5 stars A slow building novel where nothing much happens until the very end where we find out that so much had happened Lovely gentle writing It explores the female characters in great depth while drawing only sketches of the male characters who come and go It s about childhood friendships and the choices mistakes we make in childhood that mark us for life I m enjoying my run of Irish novelists.

    6. Thoroughly enjoyed this It s a dual narrative with chapters alternating between past and present, set in a stifling suburban cul de sac Both strands slowly edge towards revealing the tragedy that changed everyone s lives.I love this structure in a novel The writing is excellent and the characters well rounded and believable particularly the middle aged Elaine in the present.

    7. Despite the often elegant writing I found myself skip reading many pages, desperate for something to happen When it did, right towards the end, it left me with so many unanswered questions that I felt dissatisfied A read that for me didn t really fulfill its potential, I m afraid.

    8. Compelling as the story slowly unfolds I loved her turn of phrase the idea of the dog farting and appalling the air almost made me laugh out loud, and there were lots of other moments where I was nodding appreciatively at exactly the right word used to describe a situation The character of Elaine was sufficiently intriguing, but I did want at the end I m usually a fan of hanging endings, but this left a little too much to my imagination.

    9. I found the book extremely choppy Withholding the major event until the end was frustrating to the reader How can we sympathize with any of the characters if we don t what has happened The mother daughter relationship was interested and heartbreaking.

    10. The Lives of Women follows the protagonist, Elaine, though two different time periods summer winter past and present The present chapters are told in the first person, whereas the past chapters are told in the third, lending the objectivity to the narrative Elaine returns from New York after an absence of many years to care for her elderly father She is catapulted back to the past, recalling neighbours, and events that unfolded in her small suburban neighbourhood In the opening we learn that som [...]

    11. I bought this for my girlfriend, after hearing a glowing review on the radio She loved it and thought I would get a kick out of it It was a solid read The language was a bit flowery at times for my liking but not wasted words no metaphors and similes for the sake of it, in fairness It was set in south Dublin, according to a review I read afterwards I had to find that out online because I had no idea There are parts that are clearly set in Paris and New York it says so , but the heart of the book [...]

    12. Following the death of her mother, Elaine returns to her childhood home to care for her disabled father and aged dog after an absence of over thirty years Her feelings are at best ambivalent p10 He arrives to heel, an old dog again, half blind and utterly exhausted, then he folds himself down on the ground and looks at me sideways, as if ashamed of his own frailty And I find myself wondering which I will be left with in the end, the dog or my father, then try not to think which one I d prefer.Th [...]

    13. This is Elaine s story of her childhood and adolescence in a housing estate where women stay at home and men go off in the morning to do whatever it is that men do Into this isolated life, which includes a period of hospitalisation, arrive an American divorcee and her daughter The dynamics of life then begin to change for the women of the estate with golf lessons and afternoon drink soir es This also has an impact on the interactions of the daughters of these women This is partly a coming of age [...]

    14. Dwyer Hickey highlights the invisible dysfunction of the 70s Dublin suburbs in this incredible tale of guilt, friendship and loss Though most characters are awfully flawed, it s hard not to be enthralled by the lives of Elaine and those surrounding her We are presented with an underlying darkness from the beginning in the sinister description of the Shillman house, which remains like a fog in the background of the story as Elaine s unspeakable secret is hinted at.Though at times slow, everything [...]

    15. The story moves between the past and the present and I found it difficult to keep track of characters and events until the end of the book Then I had to go back to the beginning to reconstruct what happened and how the characters were related to each other I found the main character unlikeable at points although she was complex and a product of her experiences and family life The book moved slowly at times But when I finished, I was blown away Once the story made sense, I couldn t stop thinking [...]

    16. A great find at my local library I liked the picture on the front, which probably says something about me rather that the book s binding Once I started the book I was hooked The story is set in an Irish suburb, the men head out to work in the morning, and the women potter about at home Until the arrival of an American divorcee and her daughter, wordly wise and interesting Throughout the book an event is alluded to, and it is this constant reference that gives the book a sense of darkness and for [...]

    17. Okay page turner, but the setting was just so off Halfway through I became convinced that there was no way it was written by someone from the US, even though it is nominally set there Finding out the author was Irish vindicated that but it didn t even sound like it was written by someone who watches American television Poor mums People who work at the chippie view spoiler religious homes for unwed mothers, decade unclear but possibly the 70s hide spoiler It was jarring.

    18. Something happens in a vintage Irish suburb and is revisited by one of the group as an adult The writing style is matter of fact and you question if something actually happened Maybe living in the suburbs is the issue Maybe, it was just teenage angst You are drawn into the various characters of the housewives, the husbands, and the possibly dangerous children of this neighbourhood.

    19. This book has numerous themes including family dysfunction, social and personal isolation, loneliness, conformity and friendship The lives of women in the seventies and eighties were curtailed by both government and social laws and it s important for Ireland to acknowledge this curtailment and it s significant impact on those women and their children It s a very human intense cathartic read.

    20. An absolutely convincing voice, that took me to a world I recognised as real This book made me think and feel in a totally novelistic way through the thread of the story and through the characters I all be looking out for other books by this author.

    21. This book is a mix of suburban gothic, coming of age, and mystery It s impossible to put down and I ll be thinking about it for years and years.

    22. Throughly enjoyed this Brilliant Book , will have to read it again as I was in such a rush to find the answer But I didn t but I have a few suspects.

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