An Irish playwright reimagines his estranged lover’s past in this “rare and powerful book”(E. Annie Proulx) whose “melancholy beauty resonates with the deepest truths” (Boston Globe).
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Healy is a playwright and poet and is a member of Asodana, the academy of distinguished Irish writers.From Publishers Weekly:
Healy addresses the antipathies of contemporary Ireland-the whole island, both Ulster and the Republic of Ireland-with dogged intensity and honesty. Effectively the story of the breakup of the relationship between Catholic playwright Jack Ferris and Protestant actress Catherine Adams, the novel opens in Donegal, in the west of Ireland, as Jack slowly realizes that a combination of cultural misunderstandings and his own alcoholism have driven his lover from him. Forced to come to terms with his loss, he determines to recreate Catherine in his imagination, and the novel delves into the past to examine the social and psychological landscape of the fractured world to which they both belong. Protestant and Catholic Ireland are drawn together in the complex person of Jonathan Adams, Catherine's father, a stern Northern Protestant policeman equally attracted to and repelled by the Catholic South. Towards the end of his life, Jonathan finds himself spending more time in his holiday home in a relatively unsophisticated Southern community; but, after years of summerlong visits there, he remains an outsider-unable even to master the rudiments of casual greeting and conversation. Jonathan's difficulties are mirrored by Jack's later attempts to maintain a normal life as a playwright in violence-torn Belfast, where he has moved with Catherine, and where he begins to understand that he, too, is fundamentally an outsider. This long, resolutely bleak story (the title derives from the Greek word for "tragedy") evokes both the bitterness and the wistfulness of people caught in the center of Ireland's religious divide. Although the prose is occasionally less than beautiful, Healy's complex characterizations and powerful narrative drive make this a consistently gripping and ultimately moving novel.
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