Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE ANTE-ROOM by Kate O’Brien


by Kate O’Brien

Pub Date: April 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-86068-825-9
Publisher: Virago/Trafalgar

The second novel by the Irish-born O’Brien (1897–1974 ) is set in her native country before the turn of the century, and concerns a prosperous provincial Catholic family on a deathwatch for its matriarch. In 1934, Kirkus found this “concentrated, intensely moving story” (Aug. 15, p. 193) of special interest to co-religionists, since its crucial plot-turn relies on articles of the faith. The power exerted by the Church shades the highly internal drama suffered by the youngest family member, a beautiful young woman who secretly yearns for her older sister’s husband. Kirkus suggested that only those who “appreciate rather sombre, moving drama” will enjoy this somewhat airless fiction. Guilt-drenched and death-driven, the confessional tale does reflect (in O’Brien’s words) “the sharp and prudish eyes of Irish society in the 1880s.”