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  • Published: 20 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473572935
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272


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

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.


  • Pub date: 20 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473572935
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

About the Author

Anne Enright

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has written two collections of stories, published together as Yesterday’s Weather, one book of non-fiction, Making Babies, and six novels, including The Gathering, which won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, The Forgotten Waltz, which was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and The Green Road, which was the Bord Gáis Energy Novel of the Year and won the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. In 2015 she was appointed as the first Laureate for Irish Fiction, and in 2018 she received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature.

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Praise for Actress

“Out in force. Anne Enright, the unofficial rock star of literary fiction, cements her stardom with Actress.”

Niamh Donnelly, Irish Times

“A perfect jewel of a book, a dark emerald set in the Irish laureate’s fictional tiara, alongside her Man Booker Prize winner The Gathering (2007) and The Green Road (2015). Its brilliance is complex and multifaceted, but completely lucid… Actress is a deeply humane, often darkly funny novel about the exercise of power over sexually attractive women. The grim subject matter is illuminated by Enright’s acute sensitivity to language… Enright proves, once again, her genius.”

Ruth Scurr, Spectator

“Gripping drama and a pitch-perfect evocation of the stages of Seventies Dublin and London’s West End.”

Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail, *Books to Look Our For in 2020*

“Actress absolutely enthralled me… [An] immersive, masterful novel.”

Anya Meyerowitz, Red Magazine

“[A] literary force to be reckoned with... [Anne Enright] is one of Ireland's most significant authors - and Actress will be a must-read for many in 2020.”

Nadine O'Regan, Sunday Business Post

“A delicate, knotty reflection on familial relationships… brilliant.”

Dazed Digital, *Books to Look Our For in 2020*

“Enright does a good job of teasing the reader into thinking that her novel is going to be nothing more than an old-fashioned family saga with sequins and better lighting… The result is a creeping sense of dread as family secrets are revealed and memories are twisted together into a tangle of truth and lies… Sentence after sentence is laid down with the solidity of a line of bricks, transforming ordinary life into something beautiful and strange… Every word feels right.”

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Times

“Another compelling effort filled with Enright’s trademark psychological insight.”

Paul Nolan, HotPress

“Anne Enright has an unmistakable diction and a genius for arresting detail. Her novel, a daughter’s account of her once-famous actress mother’s life, is a many-sided thing… Actress is especially good in its evocation of an Ireland and a Dublin that is vanished, highly developed in civility and language, voracious for gossip, sociable, religious, hypocritical, louche, drunken and with a sensitivity to the nuances of speech.”

Melanie McDonagh, Evening Standard

“A warm and generous portrait of a relationship between a daughter and her famous mother… skilfully interwoven with Norah’s own story, and the twists and turns of her own life and marriage.”

Hugh Linehan, Irish Times

“A potent brew of fame, sexual power, hypocrisy and bad men.”

Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

“[Actress] is the best novel involving theatre since Angela Carter’s Wise Children… This novel achieves what no real actor’s memoir could… Enright triumphs as a chameleon: memoirist, journalist, critic, daughter – her emotional intelligence knows no bounds.”

Kate Kellaway, Observer

“The narrative dances through plays, boozing and parties… Enright dwells, intriguingly, on passivity, a state common in acting, womanhood and living in Ireland… a winning read.”

Francesca Carington, Sunday Telegraph, *Novel of the Week*

“[Enright’s] work is deceptively low-key, but rich with shared experience… Enright focuses on the complexities of human connection… gradually the subtleties form into something profound and complex… witty and really rather brilliant.”

Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times

“There are leaps of joy in Actress, for all its darkness. It sparkles with light, rapid, shrugging wit… The magic of pre-war touring players, holding audiences rapt in country halls, is richly done… The atmosphere of extraordinary pressure and imperilled emotion that Enright evokes in this novel reaches beyond the mother-daughter pair, beyond the power struggles of actors and movie studios, out into the general Dublin night.”

Alexandra Harris, Guardian, *Book of the Week*

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