Imaginative, Sensitive but Hard Going

This is my review of Ghost Light by Joseph O’Connor.

I enjoyed "Star of the Sea" and admire O'Connor's desire to experiment, in this case moving from the pace of a vigorous, oldfashioned yarn (Star of the Sea) to a very different kind of novel – much shorter, slower moving, introspective and filled with memories and flashbacks. It begins with a povertystricken, alcoholic old woman recalling the time spent years ago with the much older, long dead Irish playwright Synge.

The structure of the book is quite "original", making demands on the reader to suspend all usual expectations and "go with the flow" as O'Connor pursues Irish streams of consciousness and recreates past scenes, sometimes writing the story of Molly Allgood's relationship with Synge in the form of a scene from a play.

The quality of the prose is undeniable – beautiful, carefully constructed descriptions, and O'Connor conveys well a sense of loss and nostalgia, but for me the work lacks pace, and I cannnot engage with the characters as I should. I felt ashamed to find it so hard to read and may return to it – but I fear that the lure of another book will always draw me away.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars

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