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Book summary and reviews of The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien

The Little Red Chairs

by Edna O'Brien

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  • Published:
  • Mar 2016
    320 pages
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About this book

Book Summary

A woman discovers that the foreigner she thinks will redeem her life is a notorious war criminal.

Vlad, a stranger from Eastern Europe masquerading as a healer, settles in a small Irish village where the locals fall under his spell. One woman, Fidelma McBride, becomes so enamored that she begs him for a child. All that world is shattered when Vlad is arrested, and his identity as a war criminal is revealed.

Fidelma, disgraced, flees to England and seeks work among the other migrants displaced by wars and persecution. But it is not until she confronts him - her nemesis - at the tribunal in The Hague, that her physical and emotional journey reaches its breathtaking climax.

The Little Red Chairs is a book about love, and the endless search for it. It is also a book about mankind's fascination with evil, and how long, how crooked, is the road towards Home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. O'Brien's writing in this rich, wrenching book can be both lyrical and hard-edged, which suits a world where pain shared or a tincture of kindness can help ease the passage from losses." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. O'Brien retains every element of her gorgeous writing [in] her new novel... Dark fairy-tale threads give the story a magic-realism effect, but ultimately...the author's twenty fourth book is starkly realistic. O'Brien speaks to contemporary political violence in a suitably audible voice." - Booklist

"Fidelma's eventual redemption seems forced, but O'Brien's eerily potent gaze into the nature of evil is haunting." - Publishers Weekly

"Devastating but characteristically insightful [and] artfully written... It is also the first great work of fiction to explore the new underworld of migrant labour in bulimically rich London, meticulously researched from the inside." - Ed Vulliamy, Guardian (UK)

"Authoritative and engrossing... For all its confrontations with calamity and upheaval, The Little Red Chairs is neither grim nor fraught with despair. It is filled, on the contrary, with a narrative energy and aplomb...This is a writer whose descriptive gift is fine-tuned." - Patricia Craig, Independent (UK)

"The narrative is harrowing, yet it is full of lyrical language and moving touches of the everyday." - Telegraph (UK)

"Extraordinary." - Claire Messud for the Boston Globe

"Provocative, moving, masterly... O'Brien has a way of hypnotizing the reader." - Fiona Wilson, Times (UK)

"O'Brien's fizzing, risk-taking symphony is a triumph...The most brilliant powerfully evocative Irish novel published in 2015...This is storytelling of the highest order, resounding with the empathy and authority we yearn for in fine writing." - Joseph O'Connor, Independent (Ireland)

"This is a novel that leaves an indelible impression - gorgeously written and fiercely humane." - Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail (UK)

"The great Edna O'Brien has written her masterpiece." - Philip Roth

"The Little Red Chairs is a daring invention set at the bloody crossroads where worlds collide: savage, tender and true." - John Banville

"Edna O'Brien is both brilliant and brave. This book astonished me." - Ann Patchett

"Reading The Little Red Chairs reaffirms a belief I've held since I first read Ms. O'Brien's work: She is, quite simply, a master." - Kevin Powers

This information about The Little Red Chairs was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Dan H

Mask of Evil
Unnerving, frightening. At times, very moving. Deep injury and sadness, yielding to awakening, and, finally, a rather depressing peace.

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Author Information

Edna O'Brien Author Biography

Photo: Orion Books

Edna O'Brien is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. She is considered the "doyenne" of Irish literature. She was the winner of the 1993 Writer's Guild Prize for Fiction. Her biography of James Joyce was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in June 1999. In 2001 her documentary novel, In the Forest - about a brutal murder on the west coast - caused a furor in her native Ireland. It was the subject of a BBC Omnibus film and was later shortlisted for Irish Book of the Decade.

O'Brien now lives in London. She received the Irish PEN Award in 2001. Saints and Sinners won the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the world's richest prize for a short story collection. In 2018 she received the PEN/Nabokov Award. Faber and Faber published her memoir, ...

... Full Biography

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