Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction
One of Time's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020
“A critique, a confession, a love letter?and another brilliant novel from Anne Enright.” Ron Charles, Washington Post
Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theater legend. Every moment of her life is a performance, with her daughter, Norah, standing in the wings. With age, alcohol, and dimming stardom, however, Katherine’s grip on reality grows fitful. Fueled by a proud and long-simmering rage, she commits a bizarre crime.
As Norah’s role gradually changes to Katherine’s protector, caregiver, and finally legacy-keeper, she revisits her mother’s life of fiercely kept secrets; and Norah confronts in turn the secrets of her own sexual and emotional coming-of-age. With virtuosic storytelling, Actress weaves together two generations of women with difficult sexual histories, touching a raw and timely nerve.
"Intoxicating.… Even while laughing at Enright’s wicked mockery, I was moved by the tenderness of her evocation of difficult love."
― Mary Gordon, New York Times
"Gorgeously written fiction.… Enright’s unflinching portrait… is scrupulously developed and painfully moving."
― Wendy Smith, Boston Globe
"There is something that seems effortless about Ms. Enright’s writing?an illusion, of course, but one brilliantly sustained."
― Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
― Sara Resnick, The New Yorker
"Out in force. Anne Enright, the unofficial rock star of literary fiction, cements her stardom with Actress."
― Niamh Donnelly, Irish Times
"In Katherine O’Dell, her fictional fallen star of stage and screen… Enright has created a heroine as irresistible to the reader as to her audiences.… She has become a byword for contemporary Irish literary fiction at its finest."
― Lisa Allardice, Guardian