PositiveThe London Review of Books[O\'Brien] has led, she thinks, a divided life, and the division of her life into successive places is distinctly mirrored in the instalments of this memoir. Her life is palpable in her fiction, and her fiction is palpable in the memoir, as the titling of her first and latest books starkly indicates. It proceeds, dartingly and elliptically, by episodes and anecdotes, and those stories told to her by others about themselves are almost as frequent as those in which she remains centre-stage ... The Country Girls is beautifully and plainly written, while the new book has a more figurative bent, together with raids on the purple and the stylish ... ...an enjoyable book – stardust, idiosyncrasies and all. She is, as she confesses, over-excitable; she is also self-examining.
PositiveThe London Review of BooksHis book is like other memoirs of modern times in assuming and acknowledging that while fiction may be treated as a form of autobiography, autobiography may be practised as a form of fiction ... The whole book is, without intermission, humorous and entertaining, so that we view it as an extension of his act, and don’t need to be told that his early fears and uncertainties are still with him ... The book embodies an impulse to confess and records an impulse to aspire, and it depicts an elaborate experience of exile ... Critics will want to bite him for sticking out his neck, and hanging out his other parts. But few readers will fail to enjoy the result, and few British readers who are old enough to do so will fail to recognise in this account of the Australia in which he grew up.