Since the 1960 publication of her first novel, The Country Girls, award-winning Irish writer Edna O'Brien has been both celebrated and maligned. Praised for her lyrical prose and vivid female characters and attacked for her frank treatment of sexuality and alleged sensationalism, O'Brien and her work seem always to spawn controversy, including the past banning in Ireland of several of her works. O'Brien's attention to "women's" concerns such as sex, romance, marriage, and childbirth has often relegated her to critical neglect at best and, at worst, outright contempt. This essay collection promises to be a long overdue critical reevaluation and exciting rediscovery of her oeuvre.
Wild Colonial Girl situates O'Brien in Irish contexts that allow for an appraisal of her significant contribution to a specifically Irish women's literary tradition while attesting to the potency of writing against patriarchal conventions. Each chapter's clear and detailed readings of O'Brien's fiction build a convincing case for her literary, political, and cultural importance, providing an invaluable critical guide for an enriched appreciation of O'Brien and her work.