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Heather Blazing - Colm Toibin

Paperback Published: 1st September 1993
ISBN: 9780330321259
Number Of Pages: 243

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Eamon Redmond is a judge in Ireland's high court, a completely legal creature who is just beginning to discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With effortless fluency, Colm Toibin reconstructs the history of Eamon's relationships - with his father, his first 'girl', his wife and the children who barely know him.

He gives us a family as minutely realised as any of John McGahern's and he writes about Eamon's affection for the Irish coast with such painterly skill that the land itself becomes a character.

About the Author

Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of The South, The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, The Blackwater Lightship and most recently The Master, which was short-listed for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. His non-fiction includes Bad Blood, Homage to Barcelona and The Sign of the Cross. His work has been translated into seventeen languages. He lives in Dublin.

Toibin's debut (The South, 1991) followed its heroine, a married Irishwoman on the lam, through a cycle of gain and loss; his downbeat second novel, the portrait of a Dublin judge, is all loss, no gain. An only child, Eamon Redmond lost his mother in infancy (she died in 1934). Raised by his undomesticated schoolteacher father in a small Irish town, he learned early on to be self-sufficient. His grandfather had been imprisoned by the British; his father had also participated in the struggle for independence. Eamon joins their party, Fianna Fail, and establishes his legal career through political contacts. While Eamon's still a teenager, his father has a stroke, driving the schoolboy deeper into solitude. His future wife Carmel (they meet during a campaign) finds his reserve charming, at first, but she will never break it down, and years later (after she herself has had a stroke) she cries out, "You don't love me...you don't love any of us." (That "us" refers to their grown children, son Donal and daughter Niamh, estranged from their father since adolescence.) Eamon, then, is the coldest of cold fish; even at the end, after Carmel's death, he stirs little sympathy. Meanwhile, Toibin gives us present and past in alternate chapters; Eamon as a senior High Court judge, sharp-tongued on the bench but placidly uncommunicative with Carmel while summering at the shore, is contrasted with Eamon as a child. The technique hurts the story, and Toibin's undernourished prose lowers the temperature even further. At one point, pondering his most important judgment, Eamon realizes "he was not equipped to be a moral arbiter." Could this be a career crisis? But, no, the moment passes - another in a series of missed opportunities that doom the novel. (Kirkus Reviews)

ISBN: 9780330321259
ISBN-10: 0330321250
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 243
Published: 1st September 1993
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.211
Edition Number: 1

Colm Tóibín


About the Author


Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both published in 1990. When he returned to Ireland in 1978 he worked as a journalist for ‘In Dublin’, ‘Hibernia’ and ‘The Sunday Tribune’, becoming features editor of ‘In Dublin’ in 1981 and editor of Magill, Ireland’s current affairs magazine, in 1982.

He left Magill in 1985 and travelled in Africa and South America. His journalism from the 1980s was collected in ‘The Trial of the Generals’ (1990). His other work as a journalist and travel writer includes ‘Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border’ (1987) and ‘The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe’ (1994). His other novels are: ‘The Heather Blazing (1992, winner of the Encore Award); ‘The Story of the Night’ (1996, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Prize); ‘The Blackwater Lightship’ (1999, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Angela Lansbury); ‘The Master’ (2004, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize; the Prix du Meilleur Livre; the LA Times Novel of the Year; and shortlisted for the Booker Prize); ‘Brooklyn’ (2009, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year).

His short story collections are ‘Mothers and Sons’ (2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize) and ‘The Empty Family (2010). His play ‘Beauty in a Broken Place’ was performed at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in 2004. His other books include: ‘The Modern Library: the 200 Best Novels Since 1950’ (with Carmen Callil); ‘Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush’ (2002); ‘Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar’ (2002) and ‘All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James’ (2010). He has edited ‘The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction’. His work has been translated into thirty languages. In 2008, a book of essays on his work ‘Reading Colm Toibin’, edited by Paul Delaney, was published. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster and from University College Dublin.

He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. In 2006 he was appointed to the Arts Council in Ireland. He has twice been Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and also been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University.

Visit Colm Tóibín's Booktopia Author Page


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