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Publisher's 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 toward home.

©2016 Edna O'Brien (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    193
  • 4 Stars
    106
  • 3 Stars
    67
  • 2 Stars
    25
  • 1 Stars
    17

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    260
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    28
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    8

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    163
  • 4 Stars
    97
  • 3 Stars
    68
  • 2 Stars
    20
  • 1 Stars
    28
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Exquisite prose

There is no doubt about the quality and intelligence of O'Brien's exquisite prose. However, at times I was confused as to the basics of whom, where, and when in the course of the story. The beauty of her lovely prose suffered therefore from a lack of keener stitching between scenes and too much emphasis on exhibiting her writing than pulling her story together more actively and coherently. Had she achieved that, I would have given the book five stars. The narrator did a superb job.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tara
  • New York
  • 04-24-16

Only a Master such as Edna O'Brien

...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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Red, as Scarlet, as Enraging, as Bloody


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.

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Well written, poorly conceived

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Teri
  • Lansing, MI, United States
  • 11-06-16

Good read

A journey of a life, choices, untidy, stops and starts,unfinished lives, stark in places, tender and hopeful in others. Courage. Human. Woman.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous author, fabulous reader

Where does The Little Red Chairs rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top. In my opinion, shared by many others, O'Brien is one of the world's best writers. The Little Red Chairs is a masterpiece as is Country Girl: A Memoir. But I've read virtually everything she has ever published and none is not a masterpiece.

What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

I think this was a tricky book to read because the Butcher of Bosnia is an egoistical human being like the rest of us and could, in fact, make sense of himself to himself. Stevenson handled him very well. I was actually less sympathetic to Fidelma than she. I read the book before I listened to it and chose to buy the audio because I wanted to hear what Stevenson could do with the language of the dispossessed.

Who was the most memorable character of The Little Red Chairs and why?

I remember each and every.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darcy
  • United States
  • 04-02-16

YES

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!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful writing, beautiful narrating

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • DS
  • 11-11-17

Did not enjoy

While the reading was good, the story was very hard to follow. I stuck it out to the end but never got the point of the story if there was one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Too Violent To Finish

After listening for 4 hours thinking this was a very good story, certain scenes became too horribly cruel and violent to continue . Depends if you don't mind that kind of thing . Excellent narration of course.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful