Cover image for My dream of you
My dream of you
O'Faolain, Nuala.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Audioworks, [2001]

Physical Description:
6 compact discs : digital, stereophonic ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact disc.
Added Author:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

On Order



Kathleen de Burca is a travel writer based in London. The office is the nearest thing she has to a home. When a quick series of blows strips away the props of her life, she is faced with the frightening imperative of change. In her crisis she decides to investigate a true story about a relationship so passionate that it burned its way across the barriers of class and culture -- a scandalous affair between the wife of an English landlord and an Irish servant during the devastation of Ireland's potato famine. After an absence of thirty years, Kathleen returns to Ireland to research the story and begins a journey that leads her not only into the historical past, but into a reconsideration of the family she fled years ago. While back in Ireland, she meets a lover of her own who presents her with a choice that promises to alter the course of her life. As she moves toward her decision, she calls on the strengths of her identity as a woman, an Irish woman, and a woman who is no longer young. Meanwhile, she brings the story of the long-ago lovers to a denouement as tender as it is tragic. My Dream of You explores the extremes of passion, the depths of loneliness, and the resilience of the human heart.

Author Notes

Journalist and author Nuala O'Faolain was born in 1940 and grew up in the countryside near Dublin. Before earning a postgraduate degree in English from Oxford University, she studied English as University College, Dublin and medieval English literature at the University of Hull. She had numerous jobs including a lecturer in the English department at University College; produced programs for Open Door, a community-access documentary department at the BBC; and produced current-affairs television programs for Radio Telifis Eirann. She started writing a weekly opinion column for The Irish Times in 1986. She wrote two memoirs, Are You Somebody? (1996) and Almost There (2003), and two novels, My Dream of You (2001) and The Story of Chicago May (2006). She died of lung cancer on May 9, 2008.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Irish-born Kathleen Burke has spent her adult life in London. Although her career as a travel writer requires her to circle the world, she has not returned to Ireland for very personal reasons. With a freewheeling sexual attitude, she lives a solitary, but not celibate, existence. Her primary contacts are Jimmy, her gay colleague, best friend and confidant; Nora, a sister in New York; Alex, editor and father figure; and Caroline, old friend, sometimes rescuer. After her years in England, she is still startled by the unconscious anti-Irish sentiment shown by friends and strangers alike. When Jimmy dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she finds herself at 50, mourning, drifting, alone. How do you find yourself when you are middle-aged and successful, when you can\qt even acknowledge you were lost? She violates her self-imposed exile from Ireland with the stated purpose of researching a novel based on an Irish divorce case from the 1840s. Her research into historical fact becomes a search into herself and all her contradictions. The famine, Irish patriotism, and the lot of Irish women figure large in both the present and the past; the novel she intended to write takes a backseat to her own reality. In other novels-within-novels (like Byatt's Possession, 1990), the second story takes on a life of its own. Not so here, where it serves well as a reflection of Kathleen but remains incomplete. She, in turn, serves as a mirror for the Irish in general, overcoming the scars in personal and national history, defining happiness out of the trials that shaped them all. This long, fully and artfully developed book, by the author of the critically praised best-selling autobiography Are You Somebody? (1998), is one to be savored and contemplated. --Danise Hoover

Publisher's Weekly Review

Well-known Irish newspaper columnist O'Faolain made a splash in 1998 with the publication of her unsentimental yet poignant memoir. The essential themes and many details of her evocatively atmospheric first novel will be familiar to readers of Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman. Expatriate Irishwoman Kathleen de Burca, an unmarried, middle-aged travel writer, lives in a dreary basement flat in London. Although she is professionally successful, her quest for passion has devolved into a series of increasingly rare one-night stands. She justifies the unsatisfying nature of her relationships by characterizing herself as "a generous woman." When her best friend dies of a heart attack, Kathleen decides to quit her job and write the book she has been contemplating for years. She returns to Ireland, where she immerses herself in research into an 1856 divorce case involving an alleged affair between Mrs. Talbot, the wife of an Anglo-Irish landowner, and William Mullan, their servant. Kathleen is also discovering truths about herself, her family and her country as she (like Mrs. Talbot) confronts the dilemma of whether to seize what may be her last chance for love and passion, albeit with a married man. O'Faolain's novel-within-a-novel device effectively mirrors one of the author's themes, the ultimate unknowability of a past always viewed through the lens of the present. The humor, honesty and moral seriousness with which Kathleen assesses her life and the conditions of her heart and her soul acquire a moving resonance as the imagined lives of her characters achieve resolution and her own life flowers into another phase. And O'Faolain's depiction of the west of Ireland during and just after the Famine surpasses any historical recitation of the "facts." (Feb. 19) Forecast: O'Faolain's memoir was a bestseller, and the 125,000-copy first printing and 17-city author tour scheduled for the novel anticipate another run on the lists for the Irish author. Foreign rights have been sold in the U.K., Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. BOMC and QPB alternates. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A series of blows brings travel writer Kathleen de Burca to a coming of (late middle) age examination of her life and career. Death and dismay gather around her all at once after the demise of her best friend. She quits her job in London and moves back to Ireland where she was born and from where she fled the minute she was old enough. She has terrible memories of her early family life and wants to reconnect with her brothers and sisters. Everywhere Kathleen turns and with everyone she meets there are more tangles. She works on a mysterious case involving an affair between the wife of an English landlord and a stable hand during Ireland's potato famine. She uncovers ambivalence wherever she goes: in the present, in the recent past, and in the records of events from 150 years ago. O'Faolain's (Are You Somebody?) great achievement here is her well-rounded, flesh-and-blood woman full of passion, conflict, and hope. Reader Dearbhla Molloy's voice is clearly rendered and adds dimension and color to a complex tale full of longing and humanity. Highly recommended for all contemporary fiction collections. Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1. By the time I was middle-aged I was well defended against crisis, if it came from outside. I had kept my life even and dry for a long time. I'd been the tenant of a dim basement, half-buried at he back of the Euston Road, for more than twenty years. I didn't like London particularly, except for the TravelWrite office, but I didn't see much of it. Jimmy and I, who were the main writers for the travel section of the NewsWrite syndicate, were on the move all the time. We were never what you'd call explorers; we never went anywhere near war or hunger or even discomfort. And we wrote about every place we went to in a cheerful way: that was the house rule. But we had a good boss. Even if it was the fifth "Paris in Springtime" or the third "Sri Lanka: Isle of Spices," Alex wouldn't let us get away with tired writing. Sometimes Jimmy accused him of foolish perfectionism, because every TravelWrite piece was bought immediately anyway. But having to please Alex was good for us. And then, people do read travel material in a cheerful frame of mind, imagining themselves at leisure and the world at its best. It's an intrinsically optimistic thing, travel. Partly because of that, but mostly because Alex went on caring, I liked my work. I even liked the basement, in a way, in the end. I don't suppose more than a handful of people ever visited it, in all the time I was there. Jimmy was my close friend and since he'd come to Travel-Write from America he'd lived twenty minutes away, in Soho, but we'd never been inside each other's places. It was understood that if one of us said they were going home, the other didn't ask any questions. Once, early on, he said he was going home, and I happened to see, from the top of the bus, that he had stopped a taxi and was in fact going in the opposite direction. After that, I deliberately didn't look around when we parted. Anyway, my silent rooms were never sweetened by the babble the two of us had perfected over the years. And for a long time, there hadn't been anyone there in the morning when I woke up. Sex was a hotel thing. I don't think I'd have liked to disturb the perfect nothingness of where I lived. Then a time came when I began to lose control of the evenness and the dryness. I was waiting for my bag in the arrivals hall at Harare airport when I fell into conversation with the businessman in the exquisite suit who was waiting beside me. Favorite airlines, we were chatting about. Royal Thai executive class is first-rate, he said. Ah, don't tell me you fall for all that I-am-your-dusky-handmaiden stuff, I laughed at him. Those girls really know how to please, he went on earnestly, as if I hadn't spoken at all. And there was a porter with gnarled bare feet asleep on the baggage belt, and when it started with a jolt the poor old man fell off in front of us, and all the businessman did was step back in distaste and then take out a handkerchief and flick it across the glossy toe caps of his shoes as if they'd been polluted. But I accepted his offer of a lift into town, all the same. We were stopped for a moment at a traffic light beside a bar that was rocking with laughter and drumming. They're very musical, the Africans, he said. Great sense of rhythm. Just what are you doing, I asked myself, with Mr. Dull here? I half-knew; no, quarter-knew. But if nothing more had happened I would never have given it a conscious thought. Men can't allow themselves that vagueness. At his hotel he said, Would you like to come in for a drink? Or would you like to come up to the room while I freshen up? I've rather a good single malt in my bag. I propped myself against the headrest of his big bed and sipped the Scotch and watched him deploy his neat things-his papers, his radio, his toiletries. When he came out of the bathroom with his shirt off and the top of his trousers open, I was perfectly ready to kiss and embrace. I was dead tired. I'd had a drink. I was completely alone in a foreign country. I was morethan willing to hand myself over to someone else. But very soon I was frowning behind his corpse-white back. If only I knew how to take charge of this myself, I thought. If I could be the real thing myself, I could bring him with me. . . . I honestly don't know how any person could make as little of the living body as that man did. Even the best I could do hardly made him exclaim. But he seemed to be delighted with the two of us, afterwards. At least I thought he was. He invited me to have dinner with him the next night, and I accepted, though I didn't much want to struggle through hours of trying to make conversation. I was in a great humor when he saw me into a taxi. It had been human contact, hadn't it? I was a generous woman, wasn't I, if I was nothing else? I hummed as I hung my clothes in the wardrobe of my mock-Tudor guesthouse, under huge jacaranda trees that in the streetlights looked as if their swathes of blossom were black. My favorite thing: a hotel bedroom in a new place. The phone rang. It was Alex to say that he needed Zimbabwe wildlife copy within forty-eight hours. I suppose you think that elephants and giraffes just walk around downtown Harare like people do in London? I shouted sarcastically down the phone. I suppose you think they have a game park in this guesthouse where I have just arrived. Then I hung up. When the phone rang again I picked up, ready to do a deal about the deadline. But it was the businessman. How are you, my little Irish kitten? he said. I am thinking of you. Oh, really? I said, embarrassed. Kitten. I was forty-nine. Unfortunately, he said, I must go out of town. One hour after I'd been with him! He hadn't even waited till the next day. And that's what I learned from him-that my heart was still ridiculously alive. I was sincerely hurt. What had I done wrong? I actually swallowed back tears. And then, he continued, I must go directly back to my office. There was nothing between the man and me-nothing, not even liking. But because of the memory of some wholeness, or the hope of some regeneration, I would have dropped whatever I'd planned, just to go back to scratching around on his bed. I cannot go on like this, I said to myself. Tears! I went on to the east a few days later to do a quick piece about a hot springs resort in the Philippines. I went straight to the famous waterfall, and though the humid, grayish air smelled like weeds rotting in mud and there were boys everywhere along the paths between the flowering trees, begging, or offering them-selves as guides, it was possible to see that this was a marvelous spot, with hummingbirds sipping from the green pools that trembled under each fall before silently overflowing and sliding down the smooth rock to the next terrace. It was going to be easy to put a positive spin on the place. I made notes and took photos of the birds for identification, and then I got a bus to Manila. It arrived in the sweltering heat and dust of the evening rush. My hotel was on the far side of a busy dual carriageway. I started across the road, and reached the road divider where there was a bit of a dust-covered low hedge. A small hand came out of the hedge. I bent down. Two dirty-faced girls of seven or eight had a box under the hedge with an infant sleeping in it. Dollar! the girl said. Then she stood on the road divider with the traffic going past on both sides and lifted the skirt of her ragged frock and pushed her delicate pelvis in threadbare panties forward. I didn't know what she meant, and maybe she didn't, either. What money I had in my pockets I gave her, and then, instead of checking in to the hotel I got a taxi to the airport, looking neither left nor right. There are children living in the middle of the road, I said. Yes, the driver said. The country people come to town and they live in the street. There was silence. He flicked on a Petula Clark tape. After he took my money, outside departures, he said, We don't need no fuckin' grief from some old bitch. --from My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain, Copyright © February 2002, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission." Excerpted from My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.