Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

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.

©2020 Anne Enright (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Actress

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    45
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    116
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    41
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

standing ovation

A remarkable character study and an unforgettable story about a mother-daughter relationship that, in Anne's inimitable style, casts an unsentimental yet deeply empathetic eye on the vulnerabilities and resiliences that make us human. An exceptional writer with a rare gift at evoking time and place - and an eye for peculiar or distinctive detail that makes you feel you've just found words for things you've always known but never named. It look me a little while to get used to her reading voice but I warmed to it very much. There were times though in the earlier part when I found it hard to make out certain words in the lower register and needed to adjust volume a bit.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wry, humane, beautifully read by author

Anne Enright creates a completely believable Maureen O’Hara type character and world. It helps the enjoyment if you know Dublin slightly, but no matter if you don’t. It’s as good as Anne Enright’s recent The Green Road, if not better.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A new go to author!

Actress is the story of Katherine O’Dell, told by her daughter. She looks back on her mother’s career as Ireland’s darling, as she works her way up through Ireland’s bus-and-truck circuit, London’s West End , Broadway and finally Hollywood. Norah lives through the more successful period of her mothers life, and then has to deal with her fall from Grace after she commits a thoroughly bizarre crime. I really loved this book, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was in fact fiction. The author, Anne Enright, read her book, and she did it so well. It really sounded like someone who was telling their own life story, as opposed to telling ‘a’ story. It was really immersive and well told. I’m not surprised that it was on the long list for the Women’s Prize 2020. I loved the way that we watched Katherine’s slide into mental health problems through the eyes of her daughter, juxtaposed with the life that she had lived before - the whole bohemian, free living, carelessness of it. And then the reveal that all was not as it seemed. I enjoy books that explore family relationships - in fiction the opportunities are endless. I really liked the historical element as well: the troubles in Ireland and how they impacted on Katherine and Norah. Not that it’s an enjoyable topic, but I have family connections, and the history of this fascinates me. To be honest, a lot of things impact on the relationship of this mother and daughter. It must have been very difficult for Norah to grow up in the way that she did - and again, I have to remind myself that this isn’t a true story! This is the first Anne Enright novel that I’ve read/ listened to, and I have another book of hers on my bookcase that I’ll be moving up the ‘to be read’ pile. I think she’s an author that I’ll also be adding to me ‘read everything by them’ list!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Like being back home

Kept away from Dublin this has been a real comfort. it has let me pretend I'm not so far away.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and gripping.

Expertly crafted and beautifully read by the author. It is hard to imagine these were not totally real characters playing out a true story. Perfect.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just glorious

Actress, written & read by the author is an open hearted account of the life of her mother, Catherine O'Dell which veers into her own life. It is honest and fragile, written in the way only a child who loves, even adores her mother can do. I loved every minute of it and didn't want it to end. I'm sure this is a book I will listen to again and again. I will definitely recommend it to all of my friends. It is just glorious, pure joy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not disappointed

So well written, entertaining and such a pleasure to hear/read. Particularly enjoyed the fact that Anne, herself read it on audio.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

superb

beautiful story. so Irish and familiar. incredibly read. I could listen to Anne read the phone book!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, great performance

Loved this, but found it hard to understand it was not an autobiography! Beautifully, and convincingly written

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

loved it. loved the author reading it too. she is so good at getting underneath a family and relationships.who is the actress in this book? for me there was more than one! it is brilliant and highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Karen McCarthy / Brenda Dass
  • Karen McCarthy / Brenda Dass
  • 11-10-20

Astounding

This is my favourite of her books, and that is saying something because I have a profound and enduring love for anything Enright writes.