I haven’t read anything by Edna O’Brien for a long time, but still have fond memories of the Country Girls trilogy.
August is a Wicked Month was written in 1965 and may seem rather dated now. Ellen has left behind her life in Ireland (repression, Catholicism and Magdalen Laundries) and now lives in ‘Swinging London’. With no commitment forthcoming from her latest lover, she books her first visit to the South of France and yearns ‘to be free and young and naked with all the men in the world making love to her, all at once.’ However her dreams for her holiday don’t turn out at all how she imagines them. August is a wicked month for her in several ways.
O’Brien’s style is often languid and sensual, inviting the reader to share in the senses and sensations of her protagonist. Ellen is adrift where she doesn’t quite belong and often wants to return home to Ireland, rather than to England. She arrives back in London ‘not happy, not unhappy’ to face ‘a cool and lovely autumn’ that will contrast with the five sizzling days suffered by Londonders during August.