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Now We Can Talk Openly About Men by Martina Evans

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Now We Can Talk Openly About Men is made up of dramatic monologues, in two parts, the first at the time of the Irish War of Independence, the second at the time of the Civil War. Martina Evans uses two distinct narrative voices. First comes Mrs Kathleen (Kitty) Donovan, a dressmaker who is given to taking laudanum. She is followed by Miss Babe Cronin, a stenographer who has fallen in love with a young revolutionary.

The speaking, musing, narrating voices create a dream-like compulsion, a sense in retrospect of inevitability, as the two older women talk of how the young women they were are pulled into events which lead to betrayal. The older women have left illusions behind. Standing back, they see the humour in what has happened, even as they remember the passion, vertigo and terror of the lived moments. The use of intense, almost psychedelic colour in the first half of the book contrasts with the flattened, monochrome language of the second half, which takes place in the shadow of the Civil War.

This is a book of vivid contrasts: age and youth, women and men, the Irish and the English: complementary stories of balance, imbalance, and transition. 



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