The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is an unflinching and deeply sympathetic portrait of a woman destroyed by self and circumstance. First published in 1955, it marked Brian Moore as a major figure in English literature (he would go on to be short-listed three times for the Booker Prize) and established him as an astute chronicler of the human soul.
Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. She has few skills and is full of the prejudices and pieties of her genteel Belfast upbringing. But Judith has a secret life. And she is just one heartbreak away from revealing it to the world.
Selected by The Guardian as one of 1,000 novels you must read before you die.
"Moore has absolute control over his narrative, and Judith Hearne's descent is both excruciating and enthralling." - Anne Enright in O, The Oprah Magazine
"With his first serious book Brian was already in full possession of his technical accomplishment, his astounding ability to put himself into other people's shoes, and his particular view of life: a tragic view....He was to prove incapable of writing a bad book, and his considerable output was to include several more that were outstandingly good; but to my mind he never wrote anything more moving and more true than Judith Hearne."--Diana Athill
"In virtually all of Moore's novels, there is a dramatic, vital connection between protagonist and place: Judith Hearne, the Catholic spinster drifting into alcoholism and isolation, is the lyric embodiment of repressed, claustrophobic Belfast, a descendant of the ageing spinsters of James Joyce's Dubliners"--Joyce Carol Oates, TLS
"Brian Moore [wrote] a superb first novel; The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne reads as freshly, and as heart-breakingly, today as it did when it first appeared in 1955."--John Banville
"The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is, to my notion, everything a novel should be."--Harper Lee (New York Times, 1960)
"Each book of [Moore's] is dangerous, unpredictable, and amusing. He treats the novel as a trainer treats a wild beast."--Graham Greene
"Brian Moore was a wonderful writer, one of the few genuine masters of the contemporary novel." --Thomas Flanagan
"Judith Hearne is a masterpiece." --Richard Yates
"The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne reads as freshly, and as heart-breakingly, today as it did when it first appeared in 1955." --John Banville
"The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is undoubtedly the best-written, most intense, wildly imaginative, exuberant and powerful of [Brian Moore's] books, and along with Connell's Mrs. Bridge, Wallant's The Pawnbroker, and Yates's Revolutionary Road, remains one of the authentic if uncelebrated classics of the last twenty years."
--DeWitt Henry, Ploughshares
"Set in Belfast in the early 1950s, Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is not a kind book, no, but it is utterly transfixing.... By the end of this truly brilliant, shocking novel, a story peopled by characters who make your skin crawl, the impossible has occurred: The reader both understands and feels compassion for a really awful woman."
-- Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe
Moore is surely one of the most versatile and compelling novelists writing today.
I can't think of another living male novelist who writes about women with such sympathy and understanding.
--Times Literary Supplement
Remarkable...seldom in modern fiction has any character been revealed so completely or been made to seem so poignantly real.
--The New York Times
A harrowing tour de force.
--New Statesman and Nation
A powerful haunting story by a young Irish-Canadian who knows the meaning not only of loneliness, but that of compassion as well.
--The New York Times
A penetrating, comic, tragic tale of a plain woman...It is a novel that occasionally sings with the lilt of the Irish greats.
--San Francisco Chronicle