You only eat in restaurants, you never cook


Photo: Women’s Museum of Ireland

You only eat in restaurants, you never cook. You make people feel that when you give them unusual gifts, like a painted biscuit tin, you have thought about it a great deal and it really is the most charming thing you could give them. You read eighteen new novels a week and write brief notes on them. When you write stories you concentrate on the house you grew up in and the relationships between your family members. You have hardly any women friends. You love Oliver Goldsmith because, since you think he wasn’t widely recognised in his own time, you feel he “lived the life of a woman in some ways.” You write at length to friends about breaches of manners you have casually experienced. You insist “on truths that cannot be reached by facts alone.” You have ambivalent feelings towards your father, grieve for your dead mother and feel nostalgia for her. Who are you? You are Maeve Brennan.

Maeve Brennan. I can’t read this biography of you any more. I have to give it back to the library because it is too sad. Every page, even when you write, is too sad. I want to keep the other book though, the Long-Winded Lady. I hate the title but I know why it is what it is. I want to keep it but I will give it back and try to buy it somewhere. I didn’t even read more than fifteen pages because it was so rich. I have to buy it and read a piece every few days.

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