Books by Rosemary Mahoney

FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO SEE by Rosemary Mahoney
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 14, 2014

"A beautiful meditation on human nature."
A spiritual odyssey into the world of the blind. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: March 27, 2003

"Spiritual solace remains elemental, Mahoney finds, the urge for direct personal experience with the divine. She conveys a genuine sense of spiritual mindfulness on the road and there is no denying these pilgrimages paid her back in full."
An affecting visit to the ancient, humbling act of pilgrimage. Read full book review >
A LIKELY STORY by Rosemary Mahoney
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 1, 1998

Bitter humor and painful honesty permeate this look back in anger 20 years to a summer spent by Mahoney (Whoredom in Kimmage: Irish Women Coming of Age, 1993, etc.) as domestic aide to Lillian Hellman, pictured here as conniving, hypocritical, abusive, and querulous in coping with age. Troubled by her father's early death and her mother's alcoholism, and insecure at boarding school, 17-year-old Mahoney began working as Hellman's part-time live-in housekeeper-cook in her Martha's Vineyard home, after the playwright replied positively to a fan letter/employment inquiry. However, Mahoney swiftly lost all illusions of receiving wisdom from a literary lion and surrogate mother as Hellman turned out to be more menace than mentor. While evoking compassion for Hellman's struggles with blindness and physical frailty and candidly admitting her own inadequacies in the job, Mahoney more often catches her old boss in a glaring, pitiless light. Here, Hellman haggles with Mahoney over pay and time, scolds her for trivial or imagined mistakes, and speaks condescendingly of her large Irish-American family; she tries to impress guests James Taylor and Carly Simon by saying she smokes pot; and she gossips about or quarrels with friends Joe Alsop, Leonard Bernstein, and William and Rose Styron. Most shocking, Hellman, so publicly sympathetic to minority groups and labor, is depicted here as privately venting racial slurs and treating employees like indentured servants. A couple of times, Mahoney unexpectedly discovers Hellman naked'symbolic of how unadorned the author of An Unfinished Woman, Pentimento, and Scoundrel Time appears here without her own self-aggrandizing recollections. By devoting more space than necessary to her own family's struggles, Mahoney lets her difficult but compelling antagonist shift out of focus at times. But even at these points, her graceful prose and pungent dialogue overcome this narrative ungainliness. In some ways, an unusually sharp magazine piece padded out to book length—but, nevertheless, a stylish memoir that recalls a legendary crusader caught with her armor down. (First serial to Vanity Fair and Elle) Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Aug. 19, 1993

From Irish-American writer Mahoney (The Early Arrival of Dreams, 1990): a remarkably perceptive and engaging account of contemporary Irish women. Mahoney—who, with strong family ties to Ireland, spent a year in high school there—returned in 1991 to investigate what she believed to be the changing role of women in a country where divorce and abortion are illegal and women are defined strictly in relation to men. As a woman who runs a pregnancy counseling service in Dublin reminded her, ``The Irish Constitution refers to women only three times and in a restrictive and paternalistic fashion.'' But with a woman recently elected as the country's president—an election one Irish analyst described as ``psychically comparable to the collapse of the Berlin Wall''—and with the growing challenge to harsh antiabortion laws, as well as with Ireland's membership in the EEC (whose high court guarantees equal rights to all), Mahoney felt that change was at last coming. She alternated her investigation between Dublin and the village of Corofin, where she lived in a splendid but isolated old castle. In the village, she spent time in the pub run and owned by the MacNamara family—a family that reflected the old realities as well as the new: Francis, like many older men the author met, was a lonely bachelor; nephew Willi had an ex-wife in England, plus two illegitimate children in the village; and heavy-drinking, 30-ish Annie had been forced by her parents and the Church to give up her child, born out of wedlock. Back in Dublin, Mahoney met with lesbians; attended meetings of the Legion of Mary; talked to a feminist poet; and interviewed Irish President Mary Robinson, who noted that the old Irish mind-set of ``worrying uncertainty and self-deprecation'' is being replaced by ``a more positive sense of Irishness.'' A memorable portrait, by a natural storyteller and scholar, of a wonderfully eloquent and expressive people on the cusp of change. Read full book review >