Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ghost Light

Lovely atmospheric book, this. I enjoyed it a lot more than Redemption Falls, though that was a fine book too, but maybe too masterly, too intellectual, too contrived. I felt pride at the achievement of reading it through, rather than real pleasure. Ghost Light is definitely a simpler construct. A piece of historical fiction, based on the life of John Millington Synge and told in the voice of the love of his life, Molly Allgood, reminiscing about better days.

There is a lovely hazy feeling to the memories, as Molly has taken to the bottle, and her thoughts are not following a linear pattern. She is stumbling through her day, on an empty stomach, from her cold room, through the streets of London, as she remembers her youth as an actress at the Abbey Theatre, where she crosses the paths of Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Synge.

She was a young, Catholic, lively girl from inner-city Dublin, far from his gentry background and big Glenageary house. Their love affair had to be conducted in secret, as his mother did not approve, and he did not seem inclined to confront her. He succumbed to illness before they could get married.

Ghost Light is a story of impossible love, missed opportunities, and a life of regret. I found it beautiful and dreamy.

The only thing I found annoying is the music playing on Joseph O'Connor's website. And it took me a long time to find the button to turn it off. Just as well I'm not working in an open office!

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