March 03, 2003 12:00 PM

by Nuala O’Faolain

This Irish journalist has produced a pair of surprise bestsellers: a blunt and moving memoir, Are You Somebody ?, about her childhood with an alcoholic mother and remote father, and a historical novel, My Dream of You. Now, reflecting on her sudden success at age 56 in this follow-up memoir, she dwells on her recent years in New York City, her breakup with a female lover, a trip to Italy with her family and the astounding reception of her books in the U.S.

Unfortunately, where the first book was poignant, this one is shallow. It lacks perspective, and the author often seems selfish and jealous, as though she were begging readers to hate her as much as they did the mother in Are You Somebody? Some will call it honest, but in the end she’s just humorless. (Riverhead, $24.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Dreary diary

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