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 toward home.
©2016 Edna O'Brien (P)2016 Hachette Audio
"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)
"O'Brien, a master at weaving the personal with the political, has a perfect partner in narrator Juliet Stevenson...this is no mere tale of love gone wrong--it's a powerfully read modern parable." (AudioFile)
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
You live in a quaint, if a little busybody, Irish hamlet, a beauty swept off her feet by a much older man, marrying in your well-earned white dress. 15, 20 years pass, your life is humdrum, sort of nice with your much older husband but your clock is ticking and his dock ain't kicking.
A very distinguished, intriguing, attractive foreign (perhaps Russian) doctor/chiropractor in his early 40s moves into town, renting a room near your art shop. He subtly suggests that you look like you need a lover. Your biological clock starts to wind in the corner of your mind, and you seek a child with this man, a child your husband cannot give you.
Weeks/months pass by and you become pregnant despite knowing now of a few negative character traits. One day government agents blow into this little village to make a highly publicized arrest of the most wanted Serbian war criminal (think, Milosevic, Karadzic).
PapaDaddy is, as it turns out, the Prince of Darkness, Beëlzebub in the body, Father of Lies in the flesh, Author of Evil, the Old Serpent.
The novel blasts with double-barrels, driven by morally difficult questions and, to my mind, unloading on some leaders in the Catholic Church as, at best, judgmental and indifferent to humanity and not at all worthy of reflecting the Redeemer, or, worse, complicit in abetting such a monstrous castigation that even Lucifer would have to look away. Ms. O'Brien has never shied away from criticizing or offending the Catholic Church of her Ireland.
Warning: this book contains one of the most diabolical and horrendous acts of sexual violence against a female in all literature, at least that I've read.
First, the narration was perfect. I think the narrator's voice is my favorite that I've listened to. Second, the writing is beautiful, but sometimes the plot was jarring. At times I even checked to make sure I hadn't skipped chapters accidentally. Some of the characters felt a little shallowly developed. I found myself wishing for more information and more development of the relationship between Vlad and Fidelma. I had a hard time understanding how she could make some of the decisions she had, so quickly. It seemed like a lost opportunity that their relationship was glazed over. Then as I listened I understood; that was not the point of the story. This is not a love story and it certainly wasn't about the love affair. In my summation it's about how people deal with, or don't deal with, grief and trauma and the implications of that choice. There are many themes and topics that are intensely interesting and heartbreaking. This book was picked for a book club and I can't wait to discuss it.
...could create this novel in all its devastating beautiy. An artistic triumph brought to life in this production. An unsettling and haunting tale that tears open the heart --as powerful and eternal and full of wisdom as the verse of Rumi.
Voracious reader with MS. Audible awesome when cognitive fatigue hits. Literature, history, spirituality, psychology. Carpinteria, CA.
Darkly human; Beautifully written; Brilliantly read. An outsider tantalizes and brings the evil of wars to a small contemporary Irish community. Wounded souls try to make make meaning and heal together. Gorgeous and horrifying imagery. Juliet Stevenson exceeds the challenge and nearly creates a new performing arts form. Brava!
The writing was often beautiful, but whatever the concept for the novel, or whatever inspired the structure of the novel, was poorly executed. There is often very little cohesion between chapters, which is often disorienting. I frequently had to check to see if I had skipped forward several chapters. Also, and perhaps because of this, there is very little meaningful character development. The narrative structure is relatively incoherent. I would not recommend this book.
A journey of a life, choices, untidy, stops and starts,unfinished lives, stark in places, tender and hopeful in others. Courage. Human. Woman.
Edna O'Brian is an incredible writer. She draws you into the complex psychologies of people thrown into untenable moral situations, how intricately guilt and innocence, morality and that which makes us human are interwoven within people, between people, between people and their environment/situation and between people and true belief systems. The individual stories are beautifully interwoven with each other, and her writing is addictive. Juliet Stevenson is also a wonderful narrator and brings the characters to life.
The language is so beautiful. And the main character holds her head up despite repeated trauma. This is a masterpiece.
Near the end when she is in the pub and takes pity on her antagonist.
Everything. She is perhaps your best reader. The Irish accent, with proper inflection made the story very real and immediate.
Vlad was incredibly well drawn - a conniving psychopath with typical seductive skills.
I can't express just how much I regard Ms. O'Brien's work. I doubt that there is an American writer with her gifts.
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