Categories: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Actress is the story of Katherine O’Dell, a glamorous Irish actress who famously shot a man in the foot and was institutionalized for being mad, as told by her daughter Norah.
This was one of the books I was most excited for in the Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist of this year! It has everything I love in fiction: glamour, secrets, gorgeous writing and an alluring, difficult main character. I loved Katherine O’Dell as a character so much, and spent the entire novel wishing the story was told from her perspective instead of Norah’s. I did not care much for Norah, nor understand why she addresses the book to her husband in “you” format. Having the point of view this way certainly added a certain mystery and glamour to Katherine, but would have enjoyed the book a lot more if it had been told in third person.
This is such an addictive read! While it did remind me of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, it’s not quite the same in terms of emotional impact – I found in the end that Actress left me wanting a bit more. It starts with the declaration that Katherine went mad and shot a man on the foot, but it feels to me that it never lives up to this very dramatic moment that we get glimpses and more context about throughout the book.
I loved the writing so much! It was gorgeous and flowed so nicely, the atmosphere just perfect. All in all, I loved it for most of the time, but kept waiting for it to be perhaps a little more emotionally devastating – this could also be because my expectations were a bit off. This reminded me of Evelyn Hugo so much that I hoped for the same emotional intensity, and that’s perhaps unfair. This is a beautiful read and I am glad to have picked it up!