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Flesh & Blood
Flesh & Blood RTÉ One, Tuesday 9.30pm

Nuala O'Faolain

As acclaimed memoirist Nuala O'Faolain confronts the painful legacy of her traumatic childhood, a new six-part documentary series asks to what extent we are controlled by the secrets of our past, and explores the silent tragedies behind six extraordinary lives.

Nuala O'Faolain's bestselling memoir Are You Somebody? was an accident. Originally planned as a collection of her Irish Times' journalism, it wasn't until Nuala set pen to paper for the introduction that the notion of writing her life story took hold.

Even then, Nuala's shocking honesty, an honesty that made Are You Somebody? one of the most celebrated memoirs of modern times, grew from her modest belief that nobody would read her book anyway.

Now, ten years on, Nuala O'Faolain is living with the legacy of Are You Somebody? Hailed by critics as a masterpiece, the book exposed the private truths behind her parent's destructive marriage and her mother's desperate alcoholism, painting a bleak picture of Nuala's early adulthood, the drinking, the affairs, and the growing isolation of her middle years. Only one relationship was truly 'life-giving', and Are You Somebody? documented too this intense love affair with another woman, and its painful disintegration.

In Flesh & Blood Nuala O'Faolain tries to come to terms with her 'lifetime of fury' and the fall-out from her memoir. Following Nuala from Clare to Ranelagh to New York City, Flesh & Blood goes behind closed doors with exclusive personal footage of Nuala's new family life. Living now with a 'decent man and his child,' Nuala still battles to accept the mundanities of domesticity, the simple pleasures of sharing and giving.

Intense, emotional and as piercingly confessional as her original memoir, this first programme in the Flesh & Blood series sees Nuala O'Faolain speaking, for the first time, about the shocking death of her younger brother and reflecting with profound sadness and maturity on the love affair that changed her life.

A remarkable journey in itself, Flesh & Blood witnesses Nuala O'Faolain making one of the hardest decisions of her adult life, as she prepares to make up her mind on whom, what and where, is home. "There is a duty on parents to give love," she says, "Every one of the nine of us has been so vulnerable. What would we have been if we were loved?"

Nuala as a young lady