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The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinéad Gleeson, is an exhilarating anthology of thirty short stories by some of the most gifted women writers this island has ever produced. Niamh Boyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Maeve Brennan, Mary Costello, June Caldwell, Lucy Caldwell, Evelyn Conlon, Anne Devlin, Maria Edgeworth, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Norah Hoult, Mary Lavin, Eimear The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinéad Gleeson, is an exhilarating anthology of thirty short stories by some of the most gifted women writers this island has ever produced. Niamh Boyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Maeve Brennan, Mary Costello, June Caldwell, Lucy Caldwell, Evelyn Conlon, Anne Devlin, Maria Edgeworth, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Norah Hoult, Mary Lavin, Eimear McBride, Molly McCloskey, Bernie McGill, Lisa McInerney, Belinda McKeon, Siobhán Mannion, Lia Mills, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Kate O’Brien, Roisín O’Donnell, E.M. Reapy, Charlotte Riddell, Eimear Ryan, Anakana Schofield, Somerville & Ross, Susan Stairs. Taken together, the collected works of these writers reveal an enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a lively literary landscape. Spanning four centuries, The Long Gaze Back features 8 rare stories from deceased luminaries and forerunners, and 22 new unpublished stories by some of the most talented Irish women writers working today. The anthology presents an inclusive and celebratory portrait of the high calibre of contemporary literature in Ireland. These stories run the gamut from heartbreaking to humorous, but each leaves a lasting impression. They chart the passions, obligations, trials and tribulations of a variety of vividly-drawn characters with unflinching honesty and relentless compassion. These are stories to savour.


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The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinéad Gleeson, is an exhilarating anthology of thirty short stories by some of the most gifted women writers this island has ever produced. Niamh Boyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Maeve Brennan, Mary Costello, June Caldwell, Lucy Caldwell, Evelyn Conlon, Anne Devlin, Maria Edgeworth, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Norah Hoult, Mary Lavin, Eimear The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinéad Gleeson, is an exhilarating anthology of thirty short stories by some of the most gifted women writers this island has ever produced. Niamh Boyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Maeve Brennan, Mary Costello, June Caldwell, Lucy Caldwell, Evelyn Conlon, Anne Devlin, Maria Edgeworth, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Norah Hoult, Mary Lavin, Eimear McBride, Molly McCloskey, Bernie McGill, Lisa McInerney, Belinda McKeon, Siobhán Mannion, Lia Mills, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Kate O’Brien, Roisín O’Donnell, E.M. Reapy, Charlotte Riddell, Eimear Ryan, Anakana Schofield, Somerville & Ross, Susan Stairs. Taken together, the collected works of these writers reveal an enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a lively literary landscape. Spanning four centuries, The Long Gaze Back features 8 rare stories from deceased luminaries and forerunners, and 22 new unpublished stories by some of the most talented Irish women writers working today. The anthology presents an inclusive and celebratory portrait of the high calibre of contemporary literature in Ireland. These stories run the gamut from heartbreaking to humorous, but each leaves a lasting impression. They chart the passions, obligations, trials and tribulations of a variety of vividly-drawn characters with unflinching honesty and relentless compassion. These are stories to savour.

30 review for The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    A collection of short stories from talented women Irish writers who's collective work spans four centuries. I hadn't listened to any of the stories before and it was fascinating listening to the vast array of talent that was portrayed. Each and every story leaves a lasting impression and the stories cover many different topics. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and the narration was absolutely wonderful. Fully deserves five stars as I enjoyed this audiobook immensely. A collection of short stories from talented women Irish writers who's collective work spans four centuries. I hadn't listened to any of the stories before and it was fascinating listening to the vast array of talent that was portrayed. Each and every story leaves a lasting impression and the stories cover many different topics. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and the narration was absolutely wonderful. Fully deserves five stars as I enjoyed this audiobook immensely.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This anthology came about because of the general neglect of women writers in Ireland and the failure to represent women's voices in such anthologies. Gleeson undertook the task to represent Irish women writers going back two centuries. The classic stories selected come from writers known for their work in the short story genre, as well as novels. The contemporary stories were both selected from collections and stories already published by living writers as well as written for this volume. Some re This anthology came about because of the general neglect of women writers in Ireland and the failure to represent women's voices in such anthologies. Gleeson undertook the task to represent Irish women writers going back two centuries. The classic stories selected come from writers known for their work in the short story genre, as well as novels. The contemporary stories were both selected from collections and stories already published by living writers as well as written for this volume. Some reviews of such collections name their favorites and may even critique all the stories. However this collection has 30 stories so that is not an approach that would work. There were stories that I found stunning, that moved me, and others that didn't leave much of an impression. Overall I enjoyed this collection and once I got moving finished it quickly. The joy of short stories. Readers who have an interest in writing my Irish women writers will find this a must read. It is the 2018 One City One Book choice for Dublin, so it will be everywhere. And that's a good thing since these writers have been ignored too long.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emma Flanagan

    Very interesting anthology and conveniently it’s the Dublin One City One Book this year.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fiona O'dea

    Good anthology.. particularly liked Eimear Ryan, Lisa McInerny, Eimear McBride, Molly McCloskey, Mary Costello, Susan Stairs, Mary Lavin and Somerville & Ross.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    A revealation to me of the variety of Irish writing which encapsulates the full range of emotions from humour to heartbreak. A real discovery for me as this collection introduced to many talented Irish women writers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Gleeson collects stories by Irish women writers from the 18th century to the 21st. All of the tales represent the multiplicity of Irish women's voices, which have sometimes been overshadowed by the famous male writers of Irish literature. Gleeson's collection spans decades and centuries, and highlights names that are more familiar as well as newer Irish women writers. It's an impressive collection, though not, of course comprehensive. There are some lovely stories here too. It's difficult to find Gleeson collects stories by Irish women writers from the 18th century to the 21st. All of the tales represent the multiplicity of Irish women's voices, which have sometimes been overshadowed by the famous male writers of Irish literature. Gleeson's collection spans decades and centuries, and highlights names that are more familiar as well as newer Irish women writers. It's an impressive collection, though not, of course comprehensive. There are some lovely stories here too. It's difficult to find a collection where every story is one you love, but this is an excellent place to start for readers interested in the Irish short story, or Irish literature in general.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Law

    The Long Gaze Back is an anthology of short stories written by Irish women whose collective work spans four centuries. They are presented in chronological order, thereby offering the reader the chance to observe how much, and how little, has changed in women’s lives. The editor, Sinead Gleeson, comments in her introduction that, with a few notable exceptions, it is only in the past few decades that women writers, particularly Irish women writers, have been selected for inclusion in anthologies. I The Long Gaze Back is an anthology of short stories written by Irish women whose collective work spans four centuries. They are presented in chronological order, thereby offering the reader the chance to observe how much, and how little, has changed in women’s lives. The editor, Sinead Gleeson, comments in her introduction that, with a few notable exceptions, it is only in the past few decades that women writers, particularly Irish women writers, have been selected for inclusion in anthologies. In recent years there has been a new energy and enthusiasm for Irish writers of both genders, an increased visibility that has enabled new voices to be heard. The short story is described as a form whose brevity belies the scale of thoughts and ideas within. The thirty tales included here offer: “a triptych: deceased classic writers sit alongside the feted names of the last two decades and the next generation” The collection opens with The Purple Jar by Maria Edgeworth, a story of a young girl whose mother allows her to make a choice, knowing it to be a foolish one, and then insists that she live with the consequences. Frank’s Resolve, by Charlotte Riddell, is an observation of a marriage where both partners appear dissatisfied, each blaming the other. The reason for this lack of understanding becomes clear, although I felt little hope, given the way Frank inhabited his world, that a satisfactory resolution would be found. The third story was amongst my favourites – Poisson d’Avril, by Somerville and Ross. It narrates a fraught train journey across Ireland as a man attempts to reach his family who are congregating for a wedding. He has been instructed to bring with him a salmon, caught whilst holidaying. The trials he encounters are presented with a dry humour and easy empathy. Most of the stories revolve around family life and the associated day to day battles faced. There are tales of birth and death, of both the old and the young; the impact of collective decisions made without consultation; how expectations can lead to resentment, particularly across the generations. The authors highlight the discomfort felt when personal problems are disclosed. The small communities may wish to know everyone else’s business, but few wish to become involved when troubles they prefer not to acknowledge are aired. There are stories of those who have left and those who have returned. The self proclaimed success stories expect to be feted whereas those who feel they have failed to live up to their former promise seek an anonymity that is often denied. The Meaning of Missing, by Evelyn Conlon, explores the relationship of close siblings when one emigrates to Australia, fails to keep in touch, and then returns for a visit. The Crossing, by Lia Mills, offers the reader the complexity of family dynamics when a middle aged couple take their teenage son to Egypt on the holiday of a lifetime. The husband’s assumptions about his wife resonated – that the brightly coloured top she bought for herself must be a gift for her more conspicuous sister, that she had somehow failed by paying too much for the item whereas the value to her was in the act of purchasing. There are relationships – between a young girl and an older man, between a young man and an older women. There are the resentments of children who suffer their parents mistakes. Frogs, by Molly McCloskey, looks at childhood friends, separated when parents move house, who meet again after more than thirty years. There is still a spark between them but they carry baggage that may prove too heavy for the other to bear. A Fuss, by Bernie McGill, explores a theme that presents itself in many of these stories, that families prefer to keep their ideas of each other intact, retaining an aversion to any distasteful reality. “she will remember the important lesson she learned from this, from him and from her mother, that it is more agreeable to be quiet than to make a fuss by telling the truth.” Children return to the parental home to attend funerals. A surviving spouse must find a way to live alone. Reasons for leaving are unpicked alongside the pull of duty. Suppressed grudges resurface when challenged by familial guilt. The writing is consistently impressive and varied making this a collection that effortlessly holds the reader’s attention. There is a strength to even the most broken of the characters, each are recognisable from everyday life. An enjoyable read that offers a taster menu of authors deserving further attention. I will be watching the trajectory of those previously unpublished with interest. My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, New Island Books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Disha Bose O'Shea

    A refreshing selection of short stories by Irish female writers. A gem of an anthology, which I could tell the editor, Sinead Gleeson, laboured over. Not only is this a collection of stories by an all-female cast but it is a clever reflection on the evolution of the short story itself. I can’t be certain, but as far as I could tell, the stories were all arranged by sequence of the ages of their authors. So, you begin by reading a short story written by an Irish female author, which is some three d A refreshing selection of short stories by Irish female writers. A gem of an anthology, which I could tell the editor, Sinead Gleeson, laboured over. Not only is this a collection of stories by an all-female cast but it is a clever reflection on the evolution of the short story itself. I can’t be certain, but as far as I could tell, the stories were all arranged by sequence of the ages of their authors. So, you begin by reading a short story written by an Irish female author, which is some three decades old and you end with one written by the youngest contemporary. I found this transition and variety in the telling of a short tale rather interesting, not to take away from the fact that all the stories are excellent. There is a common theme of course that binds them all together - tragedy, I suppose. If I had to pick, which I can easily do, since I cannot claim that I enjoyed all the stories equally; Eimer Ryan, Mary Costello and Bernie McGill’s were the strongest. Some of the earlier ones didn’t quite appeal to me, but that is perhaps because my taste in short stories has evolved into a more modern structure. Why you should read it: For the reader of short stories, this book is a gem There is something for every kind of reader Why you shouldn’t read it: This is a collection consisting of a variety of styles, so you may not enjoy every story

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aerandir

    In scope the anthology covers an impressive amount of work the work of Irish women writers from the 19th century (some stories) to the present (2016 at the time). However, I found myself only appreciating and enjoying only a handful stories. While there isn't a common theme running through, many stories touch upon grief, pregnancy, childbirth, trauma, difficult relationships, misogyny to name a few. It's was an interesting read but not a page-turned. In scope the anthology covers an impressive amount of work the work of Irish women writers from the 19th century (some stories) to the present (2016 at the time). However, I found myself only appreciating and enjoying only a handful stories. While there isn't a common theme running through, many stories touch upon grief, pregnancy, childbirth, trauma, difficult relationships, misogyny to name a few. It's was an interesting read but not a page-turned.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claire O'Brien

    3.5 stars. The problem with reviewing a collection of short stories by different authors is the quality can vary hugely. I really enjoyed some of these stories, but others less so. Some did not feel like a complete short story. Nice idea though to have a collection of all female Irish writers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julieann Wielga

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is hard to think about writing a review of this book. It is an anthology of Irish women writers. The first short story was written by Maria Edgeworth who was a contemperary of Scott and the last was written by Eimear Ryan who was born in 1986. Last fall, my daughter spent a semester in Ireland in a creative writing program. She asked the director of the program what book she should give her mother for Christmas. This book was his recommendation. First thing I would like to say about this book It is hard to think about writing a review of this book. It is an anthology of Irish women writers. The first short story was written by Maria Edgeworth who was a contemperary of Scott and the last was written by Eimear Ryan who was born in 1986. Last fall, my daughter spent a semester in Ireland in a creative writing program. She asked the director of the program what book she should give her mother for Christmas. This book was his recommendation. First thing I would like to say about this book is that it is painful. the stories are short, between 5 and 20 pages. These women do not live independently. They do not strive for a career goals. They are not having adventures or solving mysteries. They are not artists, or writers, or actors. Instead what defines them is that they are daughters, mothers, wives, and sisters. These lives feel constrained by their relationships. It is the relationships themselves that define them. When Miss Coles Made the Tea by Norah Hoult is the story of a young woman going out in the world to work at the Standard Book Shop and library. Miss Coles has a slight loss of hearing so her parents are worried that she may not be able to find employment. (The story was written in the 1930's.) The story turns on an afternoon where Miss Cole makes the tea for all the store employees and does every part of it with grace and elegance but is reprimanded for her success. After that, even though she stays at her job for the sake of her parents, she understands that they all think that she is dumb and therefore inferior, and she can never quite feel fully appreciated again. Another story , Frogs by Mary McClosky, is the story of a young woman who is recently divorced, having coffee with a man, Guy, who she had not seen since she was 10. It is clear that these two were inseparable friends as children, both different from their peers and each felt the other was a soulmate. The reader wonders if all will turn out happily and they will find each other again after this long absence. One comes to find out that the man's wife died of pancreatic cancer at 35. So they are both available to each other- but no- there is the reason that the young woman is divorced. Her son, 17, has been in a tragic car accident, and he is left in a very mangled body, a quadriplegic with indecipherable speech. Guy drives home from the meeting pondering his own life, he had married his own wife after she had been diagnosed with a life expectancy of just a couple of months to live. Would he have married her, if her the length of her illness was uncertain? Bernie McGill, writes A Fuss. Rosa is taking just a day and a half off to attend her father's funeral. She will easily be back at work by Tuesday. Her mother and uncle would be fine. One gets the idea that the ceremony will be tearless, but not for lack of caring, only for an abundance of restraint. On the train, shes meets an older lady who tells her that she lost her husband 13 years ago, now, as well as children...."better to have loved and lost".....This older woman is met by her nephew, a man in a "cable sweater, an unzipped anorak, and green wellies". The nephew hugs the old woman off he ground in an embrace when he meets her. And Rosa cries.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shannen

    The Purple Jar - Maria Edgeworth 2/5 Frank's Resolve - Charlotte Riddell 2.5/5 Poisson d'Avril - Somerville and Ross 1/5 A Bus from Tivoli -Kate O'Brien 3.5/5 When Miss Coles Made the Tea - Norah Hoult 3/5 The Demon Lover - Elizabeth Bowen 4/5 In the Middle of the Fields -Mary Lavin 4/5 The Eldest Child - Maeve Brennan 3/5 Winter Journey (The Apparitions) - Anne Devlin 3.5/5 The Meaning of Missing - Evelyn Conlon 4/5 The Coast of Wales - Éilís Ní Dhuibhne 3/5 The Crossing - Lia Mills 4.5/5 The Cat and the M The Purple Jar - Maria Edgeworth 2/5 Frank's Resolve - Charlotte Riddell 2.5/5 Poisson d'Avril - Somerville and Ross 1/5 A Bus from Tivoli -Kate O'Brien 3.5/5 When Miss Coles Made the Tea - Norah Hoult 3/5 The Demon Lover - Elizabeth Bowen 4/5 In the Middle of the Fields -Mary Lavin 4/5 The Eldest Child - Maeve Brennan 3/5 Winter Journey (The Apparitions) - Anne Devlin 3.5/5 The Meaning of Missing - Evelyn Conlon 4/5 The Coast of Wales - Éilís Ní Dhuibhne 3/5 The Crossing - Lia Mills 4.5/5 The Cat and the Mouse - Christine Dwyer Hickey 3/5 Three Stories About Love - Anne Enright 3.5/5 As Seen from Space - Susan Stairs 2.5/5 My Little Pyromaniac - Mary Costello 3.5/5 Frogs - Molly McCloskey 3/5 A Fuss - Bernie McGill 3/5 Somat - June Caldwell 4/5 Shut Your Mouth, Héléne - Nuala Ní Chonchúir 4.5/5 I'll Take You There - Niamh Boyce 4.5/5 Beneath the Taps: A Testimonial - Anakana Schofield 4.5/5 Somewhere to Be - Siobhán Mannion 3.5/5 Through the Wall - Eimear McBride 2.5/5 Long Distance - Belinda McKeon 3/5 Multitudes - Lucy Caldwell 5/5 Berghain - Lisa McInerney 2/5 Infinite Landscapes - Roisín O'Donnell 3.5/5 Gustavo - EM Reapy 3.5/5 Lane in Stay - Eimear Ryan 2.5/5

  13. 4 out of 5

    Belinda Carvalho

    Enjoyable, well-selected anthology by a wide selection of female writers manages to reflect the various complexities of life as an Irish woman. I could not find fault with it and as collections go I found it quite page turning. Tragic themes such as widowhood, still birth, infidelity and divorce are treated sensitively in subtle stories with just the right amount of Irish wit and humour to get you through the collection. A few stories were a little avant garden for my tastes but remained excelle Enjoyable, well-selected anthology by a wide selection of female writers manages to reflect the various complexities of life as an Irish woman. I could not find fault with it and as collections go I found it quite page turning. Tragic themes such as widowhood, still birth, infidelity and divorce are treated sensitively in subtle stories with just the right amount of Irish wit and humour to get you through the collection. A few stories were a little avant garden for my tastes but remained excellent additions to the collection. Irish women seem to be particular masters of the short story form. My favourite story was The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen (this was how I accidentally stumbled across the collection) but My Little Pyromaniac by Mary Costello was another fantastic short story. This collection satisfied me much more than Town and Country and I was particularly impressed by how current some of the recent writers chosen are. This book is a must read for fans of Irish literature.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ally Marshall

    I loved this book. I read it in under a week - and for someone who doesn't read much, that's very quick! The stories focus a lot around death/grieving, unhappy lives and coping techniques. It shows a number of characters dealing with loss or with the fact that their life is different than they had hoped. There are also a couple of fantasy-type stories, and a few comedic ones. I found it easy to pick up the book at lunch or in the evenings and pop a story in. Each were interesting and left a last I loved this book. I read it in under a week - and for someone who doesn't read much, that's very quick! The stories focus a lot around death/grieving, unhappy lives and coping techniques. It shows a number of characters dealing with loss or with the fact that their life is different than they had hoped. There are also a couple of fantasy-type stories, and a few comedic ones. I found it easy to pick up the book at lunch or in the evenings and pop a story in. Each were interesting and left a lasting impression. A few of them weren't entirely exciting or "page-turners", but they were still pleasant and since they were short it didn't bore or bother me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Crawford

    I initially read the authors I liked in this short story collection and then tailed off reading any more. I finally finished the others months after starting which probably shows that short stories are not my books of choice. However I did come across a few new authors and really liked the fact that this book will be an introduction for many to the fine female writers we have and have had in Ireland. Overall a treat to read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Power

    Wonderful anthology. Especially enjoyed the terrific Mary Lavin Story. Oh of course Somerville and Ross are always like a blast of bright sunshine. The Coast of Wales by Eillis Ni Dhuibhne was my fav though....this was written the best...a simple story which transports you to the place instantly and says what it has to say plainly....no hidden meanings...no is this what they mean ...is that what they mean and you are left wondering.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Finn Hynes

    Finally finished this! Was sent it by a very close friend shortly after I had my second child on the other side of the world. It's a rich collection of beautiful storytelling. Short stories are a great way for a tired new mum to get back into reading. This is full of different tales and styles all from Irish authors, but relatable to the global female narrative. Finally finished this! Was sent it by a very close friend shortly after I had my second child on the other side of the world. It's a rich collection of beautiful storytelling. Short stories are a great way for a tired new mum to get back into reading. This is full of different tales and styles all from Irish authors, but relatable to the global female narrative.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Book of short stories by Irish writers, some of whom I've never heard of but would like to read in the future. I realise I'm not too keen on short stories....a bit like having one sweet only from the box...nice but you want more. Book of short stories by Irish writers, some of whom I've never heard of but would like to read in the future. I realise I'm not too keen on short stories....a bit like having one sweet only from the box...nice but you want more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    Sinead Gleeson’s collection of short stories by Irish women writers contains some precious and often unexpected jewels. A book for dipping in and out of, rather than reading from start to finish as I tried to do - too much good stuff for one go.

  20. 4 out of 5

    DebsD

    Anthologies are, I think, almost always difficult to rate/review. I loved some of the writing in this and was meh about other parts of it. I liked that there was such a range of writing - some light-hearted, some very much not, some quite modern, some from a century ago.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Goldfishing

    Fantastic

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lawler

    In organising her selection chronologically, Gleeson has done more than publish an anthology of Irish women writers. She has created an insightful collection of stories that informs as well as entertains when it comes to the topic of women in Irish society. The anthology opens with Maria Edgeworth’s succinct grass-is-always-greener fable The Purple Jar. While it seems a slow start, things warm up nicely with Frank’s Resolve by Charlotte Riddle —in which the eponymous Frank has a row with himself In organising her selection chronologically, Gleeson has done more than publish an anthology of Irish women writers. She has created an insightful collection of stories that informs as well as entertains when it comes to the topic of women in Irish society. The anthology opens with Maria Edgeworth’s succinct grass-is-always-greener fable The Purple Jar. While it seems a slow start, things warm up nicely with Frank’s Resolve by Charlotte Riddle —in which the eponymous Frank has a row with himself over the contentious issue of women’s rights — and as the writers move through the 1800s and into the 1900s the stories really pick up the pace. We witness the shift in focus, from the preoccupation with society and class in Somerville and Ross’ Poisson d’Avril and Norah Hoult’s When Miss Cole Made the Tea, to the more introspective and personal subjects of Mary Devlin’s The Eldest Child, as Mrs. Bagot deals with the loss of a newborn child. Mary Costello’s meditation on a love that might have been in My Little Pyromaniac and Belinda McKeon’s words on processing grief in The Long Distance. A special mention goes to Bernie McGill’s excellent and poignant A Fuss which describes Rosa’s journey from her city life to her home place to bury her father, and to Siobhán Mannion’s beautifully written Somewhere To Be for its crystal-clear depiction of the pull of the Atlantic Ocean. The Long Gaze Back blasts open the tunnel vision often applied to Irish literature and is a welcome addition to bookshelves, both academic and domestic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alba

    This is an anthology meant to celebrate Irish women's voices in a time when most Irish women haven't had much of a voice. This is a great idea in theory. But I have to say that the execution wasn't amazing. Gleeson, the editor, has a very different idea abut what makes a good story. I've been reading a lot of short stories this year, even if this isn't usually my genre of choice. But this has also taught what a good short story can be - in most cases, similar to a novel,just shorter. I still exp This is an anthology meant to celebrate Irish women's voices in a time when most Irish women haven't had much of a voice. This is a great idea in theory. But I have to say that the execution wasn't amazing. Gleeson, the editor, has a very different idea abut what makes a good story. I've been reading a lot of short stories this year, even if this isn't usually my genre of choice. But this has also taught what a good short story can be - in most cases, similar to a novel,just shorter. I still expect plot, world building, character development, secondar characters. Most of the stories here were barely stories - almost none had plot and character development was lacking. They weren't the most interesting. And the themes where so banal. I usually avoid contemporary works and dislike domestic themes,which comprised most of the stories. Motherhood, grief, regret and break ups seemed the predominant themes. Not my area of interest! The best stories were when they took you away from domestic homes and to other lands like Egypt and Italy - at last the world Yalding was good! All in all I will keep reading Irish writers and female writers and even short stories but will choose them on my own because I really found these stories pretty blah. When I read, I'd like to go somewhere exciting, not someone's boring domestic existence.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Brogan

    I was excited to read this book as it contains 30 short stories written by female authors born or based in Ireland. The stories are published chronologically from oldest to youngest and there are 218 years between the oldest and youngest writers (as obviously some of the writers are dead). I was disappointed there were not so many "older" stories as I was eager to see the difference in language etc. There were only 6 authors in the book born pre 1900. One of my favourite descriptions was in the I was excited to read this book as it contains 30 short stories written by female authors born or based in Ireland. The stories are published chronologically from oldest to youngest and there are 218 years between the oldest and youngest writers (as obviously some of the writers are dead). I was disappointed there were not so many "older" stories as I was eager to see the difference in language etc. There were only 6 authors in the book born pre 1900. One of my favourite descriptions was in the very first story "The Purple Jar" where the author Maria Edgeworth (born 1768) described "a great many carts and carriages and wheelbarrows" in the streets of London. There are no stories that really stick out for me and I dare say I actually enjoyed the last 3 stories the most, from our youngest writers...... This is a book that I had by my bedside for weeks and dipped into now and again and that's how I'd recommend reading it, if you choose to.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    When I was visiting Ireland in 2016, I wandered into a bookstore and saw that this anthology was Dublin’s One City One Book. After reading that The Long Gaze Back was a short story collection that compiled works by Irish women writers, I knew it would be a great memento for the trip. I really enjoyed moving through time and learning about each author before reading their work, as I had only heard of Anne Enright and Kate O’Brien before. It can be a little jarring to go from one story to the next When I was visiting Ireland in 2016, I wandered into a bookstore and saw that this anthology was Dublin’s One City One Book. After reading that The Long Gaze Back was a short story collection that compiled works by Irish women writers, I knew it would be a great memento for the trip. I really enjoyed moving through time and learning about each author before reading their work, as I had only heard of Anne Enright and Kate O’Brien before. It can be a little jarring to go from one story to the next as there are no intentional through lines based on the nature of this anthology (one story by one author). The common themes of loss, resilience, and motherhood help to tie the stories together. I would recommend The Long Gaze Back to anyone who wants to learn more about the legacy of female writers in Ireland.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rue Baldry

    This is a good collection of some good short stories. It starts off with a brief catch-up of the history of Irish women short story writers, covering 1800 - 1975 in 8 stories. Then, the bulk of the stories come from current writers. Unusually for a collection of this size, I didn’t think there was a single poor story. One was a little experimental for me, a couple a bit too obvious, but the rest were very enjoyable. Of the older stories, my favourites were When Miss Coles Made the Tea and Poisson This is a good collection of some good short stories. It starts off with a brief catch-up of the history of Irish women short story writers, covering 1800 - 1975 in 8 stories. Then, the bulk of the stories come from current writers. Unusually for a collection of this size, I didn’t think there was a single poor story. One was a little experimental for me, a couple a bit too obvious, but the rest were very enjoyable. Of the older stories, my favourites were When Miss Coles Made the Tea and Poisson d’Avril. Of the newer ones, A Fuss, Infinite Landscapes, Beneath the Taps and The Cat And The Mouse. They were all well worth reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lucia Gannon

    A really enjoyable sample of Irish women's short story writing through the ages. Particularly enjoyed some that I had never read previously. Had it to hand for almost a year, dipping in and out when I had a spare twenty minutes or so and think I have finally read them all-some more than once. A great variety of style and topics. Good to have such a collection in one book. Will probably keep it un-shelved for another while. A really enjoyable sample of Irish women's short story writing through the ages. Particularly enjoyed some that I had never read previously. Had it to hand for almost a year, dipping in and out when I had a spare twenty minutes or so and think I have finally read them all-some more than once. A great variety of style and topics. Good to have such a collection in one book. Will probably keep it un-shelved for another while.

  28. 4 out of 5

    R

    3.5 This picked up towards the end for me, with the first few stories (oldest) not being my taste. A lot of themes of motherhood, which I wasn't expecting. Some authors I came across that I'd love to read more of from this anthology: Maeve Brennan Elizabeth Bowen Mary Costello Susan Stairs Niamh Boyce Siobhan Mannion Lucy Caldwell 3.5 This picked up towards the end for me, with the first few stories (oldest) not being my taste. A lot of themes of motherhood, which I wasn't expecting. Some authors I came across that I'd love to read more of from this anthology: Maeve Brennan Elizabeth Bowen Mary Costello Susan Stairs Niamh Boyce Siobhan Mannion Lucy Caldwell

  29. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I loved a third of the stories in this collection and plan on reading more from those authors but overall this was a very bumpy ride. Most of the short stories did not grab my attention and so I read one and put the book down to pick up at a later date, I only managed to finish it because I’m stubborn and I knew there were some precious gems in it. Overall, 3.5 stars would be fair.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Meh.

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