Ghost Light

By Joseph O'Connor
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374161873, 256pp.)

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

List Price: $25.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the February 2011 Indie Next List
“Occasionally, a novel will come along that breaks the bounds between fact and fiction, romance and reality, to create a story so insightful and true that the scenes come to life before your eyes. Ghost Light is the fictionalized account of the famed Irish playwright J.M. Synge and his lover, the actress Maire O'Neill. Alternating with the Dublin tableaux is the tale of Maire's later life as a poverty-stricken alcoholic in 1952 London, where she haunted by the memories of both her days with Synge and her acting career, and struggling to make her way, day by day. Bravo!”
-- Carl Hoffman, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI


Description

1907 Edwardian Dublin, a city of whispers and rumors. At the Abbey Theatre W. B. Yeats is working with the talented John Synge, his resident playwright. It is here that Synge, the author of The Playboy of the Western World and The Tinker’s Wedding, will meet an actress still in her teens named Molly Allgood. Rebellious, irreverent, beautiful, flirtatious, Molly is a girl of the inner-city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. Witty and watchful, she has dozens of admirers, but it is the damaged older playwright who is her secret passion despite the barriers of age, class, education, and religion.

Synge is a troubled, reticent genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by conventions and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of immense loneliness and severity, he has long been ill, but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, and often tender.

1950s postwar London, an old woman walks across the city in the wake of a hurricane. As she wanders past bomb sites and through the forlorn beauty of wrecked terraces and wintry parks, her mind drifts in and out of the present as she remembers her life’s great love, her once dazzling career, and her travels in America. Vivid and beautifully written, Molly’s swirling, fractured narrative moves from Dublin to London via New York with luminous language and raw feeling. Ghost Light is a story of great sadness and joy—a tour de force from the widely acclaimed and bestselling author of Star of the Sea.




About the Author

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include six previous novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, and Redemption Falls. Star of the Sea became an international bestseller, winning the Irish Post Award for Literature, and France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, and the Prix Madeleine Zepter for European Novel of the Year. His work has been published in thirty-five languages. http://josephoconnorauthor.com/

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